A lot of people have been saying that this is almost exactly like the Hunger Games, and they're right, because it is. But unlike the Hunger Games, this makes no sense.
Tella is a lot of things, but likeable isn't really on that list. She's so incredibly shallow and petty at the most inappropriate of times. Oh, and stupid. She is in the middle of a race to try and save her brother's life and the first thing that comes to mind for her when she meets Harper is how much she hates the girl because she's pretty. Sweetie you are pretty much in a survival show, focus on surviving oh my God. Tella is so focused on how everyone looks, she's so obsessed over it that she feels the need to mention it every few pages, move on! She has absolutely no idea how to survive in the wild, so she should have been dead after the first two days.
Guy, just like his name, is a bland person. There is nothing about him that makes him stand out against other love interests in young adult novels, absolutely nothing. Hell, there was nothing that made him stand out against any of the other characters in the book. He stands around glaring and giving orders, and he and Tella have some weird romantic thing going on. For some reason they won't talk to each other about it so that they're on the same page because that makes too much sense and we need some angst up in here.
The other characters were also pretty uninteresting to be honest, I should've felt bad for them, or at least empathized with them, but I couldn't because I didn't care, the book didn't make me care. I cared more about the animals than I cared about the minor characters. There was nothing interesting about them, there was nothing that stood out, at all about any of them.
Titus can go rot in hell to be honest, he was garbage, and Tella should've sliced this dude up the first chance she got. He sexually assaults her, and Tella just completely brushes it off, she doesn't show any signs of it affecting her in any way at all, and I just, like no, stop. I have literally no words for how angry I was with how this book dealt with sexual assault.
I don't know why anyone is competing in this race, some dude named Santiago messed with the forces of nature and the people working for him were like this is fucked up we should stop, and he was like no. So they decided to set fire to this lab holding all these animals, and Santiago's daughter died in the fire so he created this race to get back at the people who killed his daughter. Even though these people warned him that what they were doing was wrong. One race, fine, I guess I could accept that but who in the fuck was like, "This is brilliant, we should keep doing this," after it was over?
I don't know where any of these races take place, it's so vague about the locations, it just mentions the ecosystems and leaves it at that. And nobody bothers to even wonder where in the world they are. There are people in this race as young as 8, being away from school for 3 MONTHS, and no one has a problem with this? Maybe this is just me, but I'm fairly certain that someone is going to get suspicious when a kid disappears for three months, but that's none of my business.
And if you can pick anyone to compete in the race, please tell me why anyone would pick a goddamn child to compete in something like this?
Let's talk about Tella though.
She finds a mysterious box in her room, with a message from someone telling her that they can cure her brother, even though doctors have already told her family that they can't. Who does this message come from? Tella doesn't know, she doesn't care, she just heads on out and does whatever the mysterious device in the box tells her because, fuck logic. How did this box get into her room in the first place? I don't know, and the book doesn't explain.
But anyway, she heads over to some empty museum, which sounds like she's about to get murdered, and finds some eggs, and instead of grabbing one and running, she stands around and looks at the eggs. She just looks at them, forget that it's a race, she's gonna take her time and describe each egg. And I'm somehow supposed to feel sorry for her when some girl nearly scalps her and steals the last egg.
Tella decides to chop off all of her hair because of the incident. She finds herself in a jungle, and it's a good thing that Contenders are allowed to team up because Tella would've been dead within 48 hours if they couldn't.
What about Guy? Guy is perfectly trained to survive in all of these terrains, how, I don't know? The book literally never talks about where he trained to survive in all four ecosystems. Are there any places that teach you hands on training for stuff like this that I don't know about?
But lucky for Tella, she's able to make it halfway through the race through piggybacking off of everyone else around her.