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Fire & Flood

Fire & Flood - Victoria Scott Instead of Fire & Flood, this book should be named Mish & Mash. Trying to make sense of this story was like unpacking a fever dream...

Why was this person I met five years ago at summer camp escaping the apocalypse with me and my family?

And why were we all so happy and chipper the whole time?

Where did the flock of neon zebras come from when we were crossing the Pacific Ocean?

So how hot was the fever that cooked this story up? Fire & Flood is like a combination of The Hunger Games and The Amazing Race, but with Digimon, narrated by Tessa Altman from Suburgatory, with Jonah Griggs as the love interest. Oh, and there’s no dystopic or futuristic setting. It’s set in the modern world as we know it, only there have been secret advancements in genetic engineering and… elemental magic (???) that the general public is unaware of.

Our narrator is a teenage girl — Tella. Tella’s older brother is bedridden with a mysterious illness that no doctor can identify or treat. So, Tella’s parents have moved the family to a removed spot in Montana. Fishy. The book’s action begins quickly, with Tella discovering a strange, ipod-like device in her room. But instead of blaring My Chemical Romance like it should, the device invites her to compete in a race, horribly titled the Brimstone Bleed, where the prize is the capital-C Cure for her brother’s illness. Brave and irrepressible Tella sets off immediately on this mission, soon receiving her Pandora — an animal with special powers that hatches from an egg, like a Tomagatchi — and embarking on the jungle portion of a four-part, 90-day race.

Now, I don’t require my escapist reading to make perfect sense, but I do have a limit.

My biggest complaint with Fire & Flood comes from the discrepancy between the subject matter and the tone. The deadly stakes of this race are rendered completely unbelievable and the opposite of emotionally resonant by Tella’s sassy, mall-rat narration. On one page, some people die. A few pages later, Tella pines for Nordstrom’s. Then, there's this line: "That's a bald eagle," I say, proud of myself for knowing."

So, obviously not my cup of tea, but I’m sure there are readers who would find enjoyment in this series. I recommend for people who liked Maze Runner.