Sunday, 5 February 2012

Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press 2011

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

I finished this book this morning, and I mulled over what I was going to say about it in my review at breakfast. The thing is, I feel like I can't sum up my feelings adequately enough because I have no idea where to begin with this review, but I will try.

On the small island of Thisby, Kate "Puck" Connelly and her two brothers have been made orphans after their parents were killed on a boat by the capall uisce, deadly water horses that come up out of the sea during the weeks close to November. Every November, there is a race held on the beach, called the Scorpio Races, where riders race their water horses in a fierce fight to the finish. Some live and some die. When Puck is faced with consequences that threaten her family life, she has no choice but to enter the races and is the first girl ever to do so. Sean Kendrick is the four-time winner of the Scorpio Races; he keeps himself to himself and is ultimately a mystery.

The Scorpio Races is, at its core, a book about horses. I feel that this is the kind of book that you need to be patient and take your time with in order to really appreciate it. Stiefvater uses the water horse myth in this story, which I'd never come across before and I found it very intriguing. I was actually expecting something else entirely when I read the description for this, but in most ways it was so much better. Puck Connelly is one of the main characters, although the story is told from both Puck and Sean's point of view. She was a mentally strong character and I respected her for trying to keep things going normally for her family as best she could. She was definitely the character with the most growth, because she faced her fears and was determined in light of her new situation. Most of all though, I found her to be real. She had so many fears but she learned to face them and stood for herself in the lead up to the races. Sean Kendrick was a very secluded character, and I admired the way that he so easily could hide what he was thinking. He felt like a very conflicted character to me, and he was ultimately my favourite of the two. Puck and Sean brought out a new side in each other, and inspired each other to be stronger than they already were. The romance was slow but it does eventually get there; it doesn't overshadow what the book is really about. The most prominent thing in this book is Sean and Puck's love for their horses; especially Sean's. Their horses were a big part of who they were and they were a very big part in both Puck and Sean's motives for winning the race. I also think that Stiefvater did a great job with the island descriptions because they were really beautiful and she did a great job with the secondary characters. For me, this book is possibly Maggie Stiefvater's best work. For those of you who might consider reading The Scorpio Races after this review, I have to tell you that nothing really happens until three-quarters of the way in, and like I said, you need to be patient with it. This book is about what you're willing to do to keep your family together and it questions what you want and what you need. It was beautiful, and tears welled up in my eyes at the ending. Despite feeling that this book is Maggie Stiefvater's best work, I'm going to give it 4 stars; that doesn't mean to say that there was something lacking in it, but 4 stars just feels right to me.

4 stars

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