Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Review: Salt & Stone by Victoria Scott
Publisher: Scholastic Press(US)/Chicken House(UK)
Publication Date: February 24th, 2015
Series: Fire & Flood #2
Source: Purchased(UK edition)
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In Fire & Flood, Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and across the desert, all to remain a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed for a chance at obtaining the Cure for her brother. She can't quit--she has to win the race, save Cody, and then fight to make sure the race stops before it can claim any more lives. In the next legs of the race, across the ocean and over mountains, Tella will face frostbite, sharks, avalanche, and twisted new rules in the race.
But what if the danger is deeper than that? How do you know who to trust when everyone's keeping secrets? What do you do when the person you'd relied on most suddenly isn't there for support? How do you weigh one life against another?
The race is coming to an end, and Tella is running out of time, resources, and strength. At the start of the race there were one hundred twenty-two Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the final part of the race, just forty-one are left--and only one can win.
Well the stakes were certainly raised in this sequel. Fire & Flood really was packed full of action and edge of your seat moments. And I have no qualms saying Salt & Stone upped those ten fold. It was a totally thrilling and heart pumping read. Fire & Flood brought together some really cool elements. Like it's really hard to give the book a classification. I'd say YA sci-fi. But it's also contemporary feeling with maybe a tad bit of fantasy elements. I love when authors blur the genre lines well taking inspiration from popular pop culture. Okay, I'm not sure where Scott got her inspiration from for this series. But it has got a Survivor, Pokemon and Hunger Games-esq feel to it. I'm not saying it's a copy of them. I'm saying Fire & Flood is an awesome mix of them which it takes in a totally new and intriguing direction.
So at the end of Fire & Flood we were told why the Brimstone Bleed exists. To keep this as spoiler free as possible, I'll just say that I was totally thrown. I really wasn't sure what the point of the games were, besides winning and getting the cure, but it seems like an epic pot of revenge is lurking behind them. Tella survived the first two legs. Which definitely surprised her. Tella really proved to herself how strong she could be. So coming into the last two legs of the Bleed definitely promised to be 1000 times more dangerous. The other problem Tella faces is that she's made friends along the way. Might even be falling in love. It's not that she's loosing sight of why she's racing to be the winner; Cody is forefront in her mind. It's that she does want her friends to be there with her, at the end. Especially Guy. So not only is the games testing everything Tella has in her, but so is her heart.
Let's break this down and start with Tella. Fire & Flood showed us that she was a bit of a princess. But when she didn't even give jumping into the unknown in the hopes of saving her brother, I knew that appearance wouldn't be everything. Tella was unsure, and thought clinging to Guy would help her survive the games. Which is totally logical thinking in my head as well. But Tella quickly realized that to hell with that, she could do this. She could survive. Epic character growth. Salt & Stone brought us Tella the leader. Her little gang of friends were still looking at Guy but they were also trusting Tella. Finally Tella knew that her opinion mattered and could be right. She was right in there telling Guy that she has plans as well. At first Tella following Guy's lead and instructions made sense. He was trained all his life for the Bleed. He's smart and strong. But now that Tella's survived this far she knows that it wasn't all because of Guy. She's intelligent, strong and cunning as well. I loved that she was standing up for herself. Constantly calling Guy out. Letting him know that she's not weak and can handle anything thrown her way. To be fair I don't think Guy's actions were malicious. I believe he was pushing back against Tella taking the lead because he cares for her. But in the end Tella wants to be the winner because she got herself there. Not because of some guy. Feminism for the win.
Like in Fire & Flood the romance isn't front and center. Which is perfect as this isn't a romance book. It's all about the survival and adventure. Anyhow, Tella's a smart girl. She's infatuated with Guy. But she knows once the race is done how could they really be together. That doesn't stop a girl dreaming. Or stop the heart from feeling. Guy is a complicated guy. He's not really forthcoming with his feelings. But I'd say his actions speak for him there. Tella might not agree. She's feeling let down by him. She thinks he wants her. But she's second guessing him. Like I said, the romance and their relationship isn't really what's being focused on. Tella's thoughts include Guy a lot; what he's doing, what he would do in the given situation, etc... But it doesn't stop Tella making her own decision based on what she thinks is the right way. Salt & Stone shows them disagreeing. A lot. It's not annoying though. It shows that "couples" have separate brains. It shows that both bring something different to the relationship. And it shows that you can't be selfish and communication is key. Tella did a really good job of making Guy see that she's not weak and that he can trust someone besides himself.
Salt & Stone upped the danger and action. In Fire & Flood the desert and jungle seemed impossible to survive. Well they were nothing compared to the ocean and snow covered mountains. It was totally scary and thrilling reading along with Tella. The ocean can seem so safe, but as soon as your stuck in a little raft in the middle of this vast, open water only worry plagues your thoughts. Than the Contenders are thrown into below freezing temperatures of some mountains. Food is scarce. Making a fire is harder. And hypothermia is probably a sure thing. Scott did an excellent job of making me feel what Tella was feeling. The cold. The wet. Scared. Unsure. Happy. All the feelings. And so much action.
Pandoras are as awesome as ever! I love when animals are so important and fully developed characters in a book. These Pandoras are my favourite bit of these books. I love that Scott made Tella so caring towards them. I figured there was a point and I wasn't wrong. Tella doesn't think twice about scratching the ear of any Pandora. Doesn't have to be hers. I was disgusted with some Contenders and their behavior towards their Pandora. Tella shows them all the love they deserve. These creatures are amazing. I would give a finger for my own Madox. I love that the Pandoras are so intelligent and attuned to their Contenders needs. And so loyal. Their certainly integral to the Bleed and the story. It's cruel how they came to be. But I'm really hoping Tella will save them all.
The supporting cast is important to Tella's story as well. Every character that Scott created and introduces the reader to isn't some background underdeveloped moron. Tella makes some really important friends in the first leg. And if they survived thus far than Tella still cares and depends on them. The motives of Harper, Jaxon, Guy, etc... They're all laid out. It was really great to see that Tella had some awesome friends to depend on. Even though it's a race, they all realized that survival by themselves is plausible. But surviving and getting to the end together is preferable. Especially when Tella and Guy finally divulge their ultimate plan.
Scott brought her A game with this series. Not only is Salt & Stone thrilling and full of adventure. But Scott wasn't afraid to cut ties with certain loved characters. It's a game, people die. Pandoras die. It's brutal but as realistic as this kind of book could be. Add in Scott's signature style of writing and snappy dialogue and it's impossible not to read this book in one sitting. I sure found it quite hard to get up off my ass for any reason. Total page turner. Which better have a third book to it. I'm serious. That ending made me believe that this is not the duology it was supposed to be. Soooo announcement for the third book is forthcoming, yea?