I was given an ebook copy of this book by Scholastic through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review
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?
My Initial Thoughts:
I originally requested this book because Kayla over at The Thousand Lives was really excited. She was like REQUEST IT, and I did. I’d also heard it was the NEXT dystopian book and you guys know how much I love me some dystopian novels so I was like this sounds good. But then… Kayla didn’t like it and I was bummed. I started reading it with very low expectations.
Let’s just dive into this review. The first half of the book, I would give it a 3. The second half of the book I would give it a 4. At the beginning, Tella was really whiny and I could not believe she was the main character or a contender. I kept thinking to myself do I really have to put up with her for the rest of the novel? I thought about DNF’ing the book right then and there, but I decided to persevere, and I was happy I did.
Guy’s and Tella’s relationship is a complicated one. Some see their relationship as insta-love, but when you think about it. People in such crazy circumstances need some normalcy, and finding a partner or maybe a love interest is a very good way to find comfort, normality, and companionship in such dire situations. The thing about Guy that I loved is that he isn’t completely sold on this “attraction” or whatever you want to call it at first and she doesn’t really exactly know what to do about it either. They both know there can only be one winner.
I also found the whole idea of each contender having an animal with them to protect them was a pretty good unique thing to add to the “let’s throw people in the arena and kill each other for the prize” dystopian trope. It added a twist I didn’t know I had been wanting until I read it.
In conclusion, I like the concept and plot of this book. I like where it is going. If you want to check it out, go ahead! You’ll just have to get past the first 20% of the book, which is where I almost stopped reading it and gave it a DNF. After that it gets better and the plot thickens.