Time is slipping away…. 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? Victoria Scott’s breathtaking novel grabs readers by the throat and doesn’t let go.
The only way I can properly discuss my feelings about this book is to divide it into two parts: The first 25%; and the next 75%.
The First 25%
This kind of sums up my reaction to the beginning of this book:
Here’s why: I did not believe a bit of this. I just could not get on board. First of all, no one, and I mean no one steals a car and drives hundreds of miles away to compete in what sounds like the most ridiculous scam known to man. Granted, Tella does question it a bit, which makes her at least have a bit of sense, but it goes out the window in a hurry when she decides to do it anyway. I get the desperation about the sick brother, but a race providing a “cure” complete with instructions given to you via some weird headset? Everyone would pass. Every. Single. Person.
Then, when we got to the actual race, I felt like I was reading about some strange love child that The Hunger Games had with The Testing. I was kind of feeling like I’d read this book before, many times. When I put it down for the night, at exactly 25% (thanks, Kindle!), I seriously wasn’t sure what to make of it.
The Next 75%
It. Was. Magical.
I could not put the book down. Could not. Because I needed to know all the things. Immediately. Things started picking up when Tella found some fellow Contenders. There was a lot of running around trying to survive, there were a lot of complicated relationships, there were Pandoras. Now, obviously, I can’t go into great detail, because you don’t really want me to tell you what happened, right? But suffice it to say, the action picked up and it was like no other book I’ve read. Gone were the similarities to other books, gone even was my disbelief with Tella going in the first place (though I still don’t understand it, I no longer cared. I was just glad she was there, because I could read about it!). Some of my questions were answered, some were not. Maybe some never will be, but I assume quite a few will be. I’ll be needing Salt & Stone immediately. Please and thank you. (Wait, next February? No. No. Just no. My poor Book Hangover can’t take it!)
I want to give this ALL the stars, but I know that isn’t really fair. There were some major issues in the beginning for me. But I would absolutely recommend this book, because I loved it, despite my early doubts. I am so, so glad that I gave this a chance!