Tella's brother is dying. He's got cancer, and Tella is helpless to save him. Or so she thought. When an invitation arrives for Tella to compete in the Brimstone Bleed, a deadly competition that will lead her through treacherous jungle and scorching desert, she doesn't think twice. Because the prize is a cure to any illness. But Tella will be facing more than just the elements.
Tella and her family has just moved from Boston to Montana and she is bored out of her mind! Then, a little blue box inexplicably arrives on her bed, with a bluetooth device inside, a woman's voice explaining that Tella had been selected to take part in the Brimstone Bleed. I loved how it went from so normal to dropping us in the middle of the action, scrambling to make sense of everything! We are left as much in the dark as Tella, as she makes her way across the country, picks an egg and gets on a train to nowhere.
Tella should have annoyed me, with her spoiled attitude, but it was so obvious she loved her brother and was feeling out of her depth, I instantly fell in love with her sarcastic voice and her mostly-optimistic attitude. And the other characters were fantastic in their range; from sweet Caroline to bossy Harper, from jackass Titus to dependable Guy. Tella cannot make it alone and she gets the chance to interact with some incredible characters. And with such vivid descriptions, and varied from the humid jungle to the scorching open desert, I fell right into this weird world and even though things didn't always make sense, I couldn't put it down.
Yes, it is eerily similar to The Hunger Games in the whole "game of survival, joined to save sibling" thing, but I didn't really care about that. I actually loved how Tella was vain and had no survival skills, I loved the Pandora's and their magic, and I especially loved how it wasn't a fight to the death. The Brimstone Bleed wasn't public knowledge and a lot of the story was Tella trying to find out why it's even happening.
From conspiracies to magic animals, cute guys and fights to survive, I loved every second. I laughed, cried out and most definitely gasped a lot - usually from the Pandora's special skills. Everyone had two sides, Tella had amazing allies and this game is much more complicated than it first seems. I eagerly await the next book - and my own Pandora!
Published 6th March 2014 by Chicken House. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.