The second half of the race started in Fire & Flood (2014).
Tella’s made it through the jungle and desert, leaving ocean and mountain still to come in the four-ecosystem Brimstone Bleed. The winner will receive the Cure for the loved one infected by the race organizers to provide incentive for the selected Contenders to cooperate. Tella’s secondary agenda is love interest Guy’s plan to join, infiltrate and destroy the organizers after the race. Their romance hits major obstacles early on, primarily in the form of Guy’s belief that Tella needs to be saved and protected—he’s OK with that, but Tella isn’t. She resolves to stand up to him instead of blindly following, and she does so not just to gain his respect, but to respect herself. The next legs of the race lead to team-ups with familiar faces and newcomers of varying trustworthiness. The genetically engineered, intelligent companion animals with superpowers—the Pandoras—develop further as individual characters, causing nail-biting moments as they face dangers that in some cases outstrip those of their Contenders. Readers will fear for side characters, as they should: The organizers have mined the course with dangerous traps. Aside from a few moments of repetitive exposition in the first act, the prose is so tense that even in the characters’ few moments of rest, readers will twitch with anticipatory anxiety. The ending devastates.
Mind-blowingly intense. (Science fiction. 12 & up)