Fire & Flood is extremely fast-paced and cuts to the chase so quickly, I could barely get a hold on the main character, Tella, let alone her love of her family. I couldn't really get a grasp on her character, and although there were some small attempts to let me know what kind of girl she used to be (she seems to have been quite the soho, high-maintenance kind) when she lived in Boston, I still could not really understand who she was. I know she cares about her family and her brother and seems pretty selfish. Other attempts at telling us about what kind of person she is don't really make sense throughout the rest of the book; for instance, at one point in the story we are told she can "run like the wind," but how or why or if she is a runner or anything like that never is explained, and she never seems to be able to replicate this running ability again during the race. Fortunately, the other characters were better fleshed out, and I was happy that I could get clearer picture of the people she encounters during the Brimstone Bleed. One thing that ended up being kind of humorous was just how independent Tella seems to think herself yet how much she relies on others; it is clear to the reader that she would definitely struggle to make it on her own.
Other things that worked pretty well were the set-up of the games and just creating that sinister, mysterious element to the race and the motives of those who set it up. Guy, one of the other main characters, is a man with a mission, and it is no wonder Tella is so drawn to him. Other characters, like Harper, have a really well-written persona, and for the most part it was easy to care for them and their loved ones and their welfare. Another plus was that there were a couple of really amazing plot twists--one that I definitely didn't see coming. It plays well into the overall story arc and threw me for a loop.
I think those that like a quick read and are into the current trends in the YA world would definitely enjoy this book. Others who like a bit more meat can probably take a pass.