Salt & Stone by Victoria Scott
Book Two of the Fire & Flood series
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
How far would you go to survive?
In FIRE & FLOOD, Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and a terrifying march 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 stop--and in SALT & STONE, Tella will have to face the unseen dangers of the ocean, the breathless cold of a mountain, 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 beginning of the race there were 122 Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the fourth and final part of the race, just forty-one are left...and only one can win.
Victoria Scott's stunning thriller will leave readers' hearts racing!
What I Liked:
I really like Victoria Scott's books. I read (and enjoyed) the Dante Walker trilogy, and Fire & Flood, so I had a good feeling about this book. Thank goodness the sequel was not only NOT a victim of the sequel slump - but it was better than the first book (in my opinion)!
Tella and the other Contenders have crossed the jungle and desert - and now, the ocean and mountain waits for them. As she and her group go farther into the Brimstone Bleed, tensions run higher. The terrains get more dangerous and treacherous. Trust is a fragile thing, and Tella must reassess who she can trust and who she should be wary of, all the while, trying to survive and obtain the Cure for her brother.
There is a lot of internal struggling in this book, as well as man vs. nature, and man vs. man. Tella doesn't know if she can trust the new members of the existing group formed in book one. Cotton, a boy who joins them in the ocean terrain, is very strange, but not like Dink (in Fire & Flood). Willow is a girl that also joins them in the ocean terrain, and she is also a bit odd. Tella wants to trust the current members in her group - Braun, Olivia, Guy, etc. - but a group is always difficult to control.
There is also a struggle between Guy and Tella. Guy has not touched Tella since telling her about his goal of taking down the Brimstone Bleed. Guy is also a hugeee alpha male, and like to boss everyone around. However, Tella is quite intelligent, even if she hasn't had training like Guy has. Tella wants to dictate orders to the group, but Guy shoots her down a lot. This would have irked me more except that while Tella IS intelligent, I'd say that Guy is more so (in terms of the Brimstone Bleed). He's not always right (as he quickly learns at one point), but he is clever.
I liked Tella more in this book. I felt like I could connect with her more - maybe because it quickly became apparent that our personalities are similar. She's very girly (which I'm not necessarily), she's very kindhearted (which I'd like to say that I am), and she's pretty selfless when it comes to humans OR Pandoras. I remember thinking to myself at certain scenes, I would have done the same exact thing. Like with Oz the Pandora (he's a new one). On several occasions, I would have felt really bad for him too, and done certain things.
There are many, many secondary characters, and I really liked all of them! Even the weird ones, like Cotton and Willow. I still can't really figure out Willow, or Olivia. The two of them don't really get along, it seems. I can't remember how I felt about Harper in Fire & Flood, but I liked her in this book. She's very direct and gutsy.
The romance is there, it's not, it is. There is NO love triangle, and throughout the two books, no insta-love. I really like Guy, and I really like Tella, and I really like how their relationship is developing. They are slowly learning to trust each other, lean on each other, cede to each other. Tella wants Guy to let her make decisions, and she wants him to express how he feels about her. Guy wants Tella to be safe. Towards the end of this book, things really click between these two. But they totally have a love/hate thing going on, and it definitely leads to some steamy scenes.
I loved the plot in this book, the story. I feel like more things happen in this book, more death, more craziness, more Pandora action, more high stakes. Which is great, because Fire & Flood already had these things! I could not have guessed what would happen at different points throughout the book. I could not have predicted the ending. Oh my gosh, the ending. I seriously hope there will be a third book in the series, because this series CANNOT end the way it did with this book!
What I Did Not Like:
While the author definitely amps up the tension and stakes and creativity of the world and story, there are definitely more Hunger Games similarities in this book. Like, for example, there are people betting on the Contenders, which they didn't know, going into the Brimstone Bleed. This is similar to the contestants in The Hunger Games having sponsors (or something like that). There are similarities, but not enough for me to be all like OMG THIS IS BASICALLY THE HUNGER GAMES. Because that's not what's happening.
Would I Recommend It:
If you enjoyed Fire & Flood, then I think you'll definitely enjoy this book! Personally, I thought it was better than Fire & Flood, and I know others have thought that as well. Especially others who didn't even like Fire & Flood, but liked Salt & Stone a lot. So, that's saying something!
4 stars. I hope there will be another book in the series. I want more!