Author: Victoria Scott
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 304 pages
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.
Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.
The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?
The best part of this book, what really sets it apart, is the main character, Tella. She is pretty hilarious and I enjoyed reading her inner monologue.
"I'm discouraged to see my new threads aren't a wardrobe improvement. I briefly consider making Madox my Toto and clicking my heels together.
There's no place like Nordstrom, there's no place like Nordstrom."
I also liked that Tella is just a regular girl. Now don't get me wrong, I like my badass female main characters, but it does get a bit old reading about these girls who can kick ass. Especially if they're also petite. I mean, come on, really? But here, Tella is not strong, she can't fight, she likes shopping and nail polish. So I could definitely relate. And the Pandoras. What a cool, unique idea. Madox...so cute. There's another Pandora that ends up playing a big part near the end…love him!
I enjoyed the other characters as well. We slowly get to know each of them, their reasons for being there, etc. There are definitely a lot of good people, which makes sense given that they are all there, risking their lives to save someone. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the series continues because there can only be one winner.
The romance…it grew on me. I still don't feel like I know Guy very well, but he does reveal more about himself as the book goes on and his actions definitely speak volumes. This may be one of those books where it would have worked better if we got his POV occasionally. I think it's hard to write a strong, stoic, doesn't talk much guy and have the reader love him without getting into his head a least a little bit.
The whole time I was reading this book, I just wondered why. If the people who started this race are so smart and can cure anyone's disease, why make people risk their lives for it? What are they getting from it? Who does this benefit? This was really bugging me because it just didn't make sense, but in the very end we find out and it actually does so I was glad to see that. And it makes me excited about reading the next one. I really enjoyed it.
Posted by: Pam