Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Scorpio Races Review

Book talk: "It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die." It's time for the annual Scorpio Races where riders race on horses that came from the sea and long to return there.  Some horses may be overcome with this desire and run back to the surf, drowning their riders in the process.  Some may simply eat their riders, making the surf red with blood.  Some riders may be trampled beneath the horses' sharp hooves.  The races may kill several people, but they all ride anyway because no matter how likely it is that some will die at least one person is guaranteed to win.  So they race for all that they're worth--for fortune,  for fame, for glory, and for their lives.

Rocks my socks: It's so refreshing to see a young adult novel that's about supernatural creatures that aren't werewolves or vampires!  There is a dearth of kelpie literature out there which makes this book all the more special.  To make this book even rarer in the YA market it also doesn't have a love triangle in it.  I know, I was shocked as well.  Instead it has a really sweet romance where the characters get to know each other and help each other out and gain each other's trust instead of, you know, stalking each other or acting like a jerk.   The story alternates between both characters and each have a distinct voice and background that informs their actions.  Both are orphans, but on an island plagued by carnivorous horses that isn't all that rare.  The island is full of interesting characters and the tension remains high throughout as they train for the races that may give them their heart's desire or kill them.  I also love that it has a strong female lead in the form of Puck who is the first woman to ride in the races.  She's flawed, like all the characters in the book, but her courage and willingness to fight for what she wants is admirable.

Rocks in my socks: For a novel with a setting as harsh as this one's, the ending was a bit neat for me.  It wasn't tied-up-with-a-bow-on-top neat and if it was another novel I might not have this complaint but it wasn't another novel.  In this novel it's set up from the beginning that people regularly die and the island they all live on is a harsh mistress but worth the risk. A major source of tension in the novel is that both Puck and Sean have everything riding on the races and even though they love each other they can't both win. (highlight for slight spoilers)  But then in a way they both do. Objectively I was disappointed, but emotionally I must admit I was a bit pleased because I was so involved with the characters and I wanted them to be happy.

Every book its reader: The book is rather violent but no more violent than The Hunger Games and I've seen pretty young kids reading that.  Puck and Sean never go farther than a couple kisses but there is a bit of innuendo with one character turning up in the morning with lipstick on his collar and another commenting that that's why he doesn't look like he slept much and one character comforting another by saying that a year from now they'll have so and so in their bed (trying not to spoil too much.)  Those are the types of things that could easily pass over a reader's head unless they're old enough to get the references though so I wouldn't be too concerned about the book on that front.  All in all it depends on the kid but if they can handle Hunger Games then they should enjoy this novel.  Don't be fooled by the horse on the cover and give it to some third grader looking for a book about ponies though.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Buy it or check it out today!

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