Tella’s family move from Boston to the ‘Middle of Nowhere’ Montana, and she resents it. Then one day a mysterious blue box appears with an earpiece. Her parents immediately try to destroy it and the adventure begins. It is the invitation to a challenge, a quest over different terrains and the winner gets a cure to save someone they love; in Tella’s case her brother.
The race is called the Brimstone Bleed and it is obvious that some people know what it is about and others, like Tella, do not. We can see from the beginning that it is a rough game, when people fight to choose an egg that will become their ‘pandora’, a genetically modified animal that will aid and protect them.
It took me little while to get into this book but once I did it became compelling. Gradually people’s secrets and personalities unfold, their strengths and weaknesses revealed. We follow the contenders through the first two trials, jungle and desert, and it is amazing how many dangers each hold; how they overcome and survive the conditions is portrayed in a very believable way, with little resort to miraculous rescues.
The motive behind the race was revealed just as I was losing belief in it, and the explanation was credible. The characters were well drawn and developed along with the plot. There are deaths, but nothing too gruesome. The romance between Tella and Guy develops very quickly and is quite physical, which might put some younger boys off, but a good read nonetheless.