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?
Genres: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Cover: I love this cover since it related to the book in a way you’ll only understand when you read the story. It’s simple yet ominous looking.
My thoughts: This story is about a girl named Tella who moved to Montana with her parents and older brother who is suffering from an illness that has no cure. One day, Tella is given a device that invites her to the Brimstone Bleed, an event she has never heard of before, but one thing does captivate her about this contest. The winner of the Brimstone Bleed, a race across four landscapes, will receive a cure to any disease which makes her instantly want to join to save her brother. In the race, each contestant is given a Pandora, an animal genetically modified to help them survive the different landscapes they have to race through. Tella forms an unlikely bond with her Pandora and creates alliances with different skilled people along the way in her rush to get the cure for her brother, Cody. Little did she know was that this race was something so much bigger than a dash to win the cure.
Most people will immediately compare this novel to The Hunger Games, but it is hardly like the classic YA novel about the fight to the death. The Brimstone Bleed is a test of survival through a jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain rather than having people kill each other off until one remains. Each landscape’s race lasts fourteen days and each winner of every round will receive a small prize. The contestants are allowed to leave the race after the rounds, but Tella is determined to win the grand prize of a cure for any disease in the world. With her Pandora, which turns out to be more useful than intended, Tella meets other contestants she works together with to reach the end of the first round: the jungle.
What was incredibly interesting were the Pandoras in the novel. Each player receives a different animal that was designed to protect that specific person at all costs. Each animal has unusual skills that helped in the survival of the race to the finish line. Tella’s Pandora turned out to be vital to her endurance through the race that tested her mind and heart. I found the animals to be very captivating and unique to the story line that grasped me the moment I started the book.
Another aspect of the story that I loved was the fact that Tella was very such an entertaining protagonist. Her inner monologue was so funny to read and her crush on one of the contestants that worked alongside her was so sweet to read. The romance aspect of the book wasn’t in-your-face or too rushed. It was apart of the story but not in a way that took away from the problem that the characters were facing. Each supporting character brought different skills to the team and were all vital to the development to the plot in a way that was subtle but effective. I really enjoyed reading this novel, especially with the cliff hanger at the end that made me wish I had the sequel in my hands already. I’m a big fan of survival novels, and this story was something that I couldn’t put down for a moment.
I highly recommend it to dystopian lovers in need of a novel similar to The Hunger Games because both books are about contests where the risk is high but the reward is higher.