Review: Salt & Stone by Victoria Scott

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Salt & Stone by Victoria ScottSalt & Stone by Victoria Scott
Series: Fire & Flood #2
Published by Scholastic Press on February 24, 2015
Pages: 320
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

What would you do to save someone you love?

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.

I went into Salt & Stone feeling excited and anxious. I absolutely LOVED Fire & Flood (I gave it 4.5 stars!) and I was desperate to see what happened next. Sadly, Salt & Stone disappointed me. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I had hoped to, the characters got on my nerves, the Pandora scenes were heartbreaking and the writing seemed… off.

Let’s start with the characters. In Fire & Flood, Tella was a strong, fierce warrior. She came a long way from beginning to end. But in Salt & Stone, I felt like Tella regressed. She acted out of impulse and she was constantly making the wrong decisions. Or if the group followed Guy instead of her, she threw mini tantrums, like they were doing it just to spite her and her authority. Tella knew it was smarter to follow Guy’s lead, yet she still tried to force herself into a leadership role and, in some cases, it really landed the group in trouble. By the end of Salt & Stone, Tella seemed more like herself again. She was angry, exhausted and fed up – She was once again ready to fight for her family, friends, and Pandora’s. I’m confident she’ll have a ton of character development in book three, but I was very disappointed with her attitude in this book.

Guy annoyed the crap out of me. I know I just went off on a tirade about how Tella acted stubborn and immature, but Guy also wasn’t without fault. Yes, he knew what he was doing and Tella should have listened to him more. However, he really treated her like an ignorant child who knew nothing. I think the way he treated her fueled her actions and contributed to her acting out the way she did. If he had treated her more like an equal, or maybe opened up to her and explained himself better, I think things would have gone smoothly – Or, at least a little bit more so than they did.

And that brings me to their ship. In Fire & Flood, I shipped the crap out of Tella and Guy. They had a slow build-up, they questioned if the relationship was real or just a result of the circumstances they were in and they were slow to trust each other. In Salt & Stone, when Guy would chastise Tella or talk down to her, I pictured Guy as a giant and Tella as a tiny dwarf – Or I would picture them as a father scolding a child. I could not, no matter how hard I tried, picture them as lovers. I DID like the scenes where Tella told Guy to either open up to her or they were going to go back to just being teammates. That’s not something you often see – usually, the girl just swoons over the guy. So I liked that she put her foot down.

Harper was really cold and distant, too. I understood why to a certain extent, but her attitude kind of contradicted her mission in the Brimstone Bleed, so it was a bit frustrating. I wanted to punch Mr. Larson for 98% of the book. Every once in awhile, though, he had his moments. And then the thing that happened with him.. Wow. His good moments didn’t make up for his bad moments (since his bad moments were VERY bad), but it made me feel a little bit sympathetic towards him.

I couldn’t stand Willow. At all. And I never trusted her. But she didn’t deserve that fate.. I felt bad for Olivia throughout most of the book and I appreciated that one scene with her and Harper near the middle/end. I didn’t trust Cotton from the very first time we were introduced to him, but whoa.. I did NOT see that twist coming!

My biggest issue with Salt & Stone was the Pandora abuse. I absolutely adore the Pandora’s more than anything else. They’re the reason I read this series. I know, because of what they are and what they represent, that they can’t just go skipping through the story and never have any conflict.. And I tried to stay open minded about that when something bad happened to them. But.. Some of the scenes.. I really just couldn’t handle them. I tried to let it slide, tried to remember it had to happen.. It couldn’t NOT happen because that would be unrealistic. But.. What happened broke my heart and made me sick to my stomach. Especially after the ending of Fire & Flood.. I just couldn’t. The Pandora abuse almost made me DNF several times. I really don’t know how I was able to get through those scenes and it’s a huge part of the reasoning behind my rating.

My other big issue with this book was the writing. I’ve only read Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott. I haven’t read her Dante Walker books. So maybe this is something she always does and I just didn’t realize. But some of the writing was so cheeseball, I was grimacing and groaning as I read, especially when it came to some of the metaphors and descriptions. I didn’t notice that in Fire & Flood, so it felt like it came out of the blue in Salt & Stone. Victoria is an amazing writer and the cheesyness felt below her.

The ending, despite the Pandora abuse that absolutely broke me, was pretty crazy and epic. It sets up very nicely for the third book, which I do still want to read, though I’m crossing my fingers for less Pandora abuse.. Based on the ending of Salt & Stone, these characters are ready for an epic showdown and I can’t wait to see how this journey ends for them. Despite the issues I had, I still recommend this book for those who enjoyed Fire & Flood, since I seemed to be in the minority with some of those feelings.


Review: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Fire & Flood by Victoria ScottFire & Flood by Victoria Scott
Series: Fire & Flood #1
Published by Scholastic Press on February 25, 2014
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

A modern day thrill ride, where a teen girl and her animal companion must participate in a breathtaking race to save her brother's life—and her own.

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?

Fire & Flood was mind-blowing and amazing on so many levels. My first thought was that it was like The Hunger Games – but way, way better. From there, the comparisons to The Hunger Games faded away and the book became even better. This was my first Victoria Scott Book (I swear, the Dante Walker books are on my TBR! Soon.. Very, very soon…) and I could tell right from the start that Scott was an amazing writer. I was captivated by her writing, her characters, her world-building, all of it.

First of all, I loved Tella. She was a strong, fierce and determined character. Used to living a mostly pampered life, she really came into her own as the story unfolded. She had a few moments of weakness, but that only made her feel more real and more relatable.

Guy was completely swoon-worthy. I adored him from the beginning, even though he was kind of mean to Tella at first. Guy was strong, a fighter and a protector. There was something about him from the beginning that had me curious and interested. Though Tella meets Guy early on, we aren’t formally introduced to him until further into the story. But I had heard so many things about him, I knew who he was immediately and I was eager for more of him!

I loved that Tella and Guy’s relationship had a slow build-up, that it took time for them to trust each other and like each other. And even then, Tella still questioned it. My favorite part of their relationship was when Tella questioned if they liked each other for the right reasons – was it true attraction or due to circumstance? It’s not something often addressed in Dystopian books and it was great seeing the character question the relationship in such a way. It felt realistic.

There were a lot of secondary characters in this book and sometimes, that can feel overwhelming and confusing. But all of Scott’s characters were so distinct, with strong voices, that they stood out and were incredibly memorable. I loved Harper, though I didn’t completely trust her. I was always waiting for.. something to happen. I’m not sure what. And my hunch was pretty accurate. I was pretty wary of Caroline and Dink, too, and for good reasons! Titus was a complete a-hole and he got what was coming to him!

Now, let’s discuss my favorite part of this book – Pandoras! I LOVED LOVED LOVED the Pandoras!!!!!!!! Seriously, Victoria Scott needs to team with GUND to create a stuffed animal line of Pandoras!! I want a stuffed Madox!!!!!!!!!! I feel like the Pandoras were a huge part of the story, so I can’t say too much or I’ll get spoilery on you guys, but they were amazing and cool and amazing and… Did I say cool yet? I just absolutely adored them!

And that brings me to the reason I rated this 4.5 stars instead of 5 stars… Near the very end of the book, there was a… situation. And it upset me terribly. Like.. I was literally sobbing and hysterical. And it bumped this wonderful book down half a star rating. I can’t say a single thing about what it was, what it concerned or why. It’s too big a spoiler. But it seemed unnecessary and completely ridiculous and out of the blue. My heart broke. So yeah..

Moving on. The ending was insanely amazing. I don’t know if I can wait a whole year for book two! I NEED to see what happens next! Especially with the crazy, insane revelations we learned in the last seven pages or so. Victoria Scott is an amazing writer, amazing story-teller and overall awesome person. Not only am I eager for the next book in the Fire & Flood serious, but this makes me even more eager to read her Dante Walker books. And I would DEFINITELY and HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone and everyone!