Book Review: The Scorpio Races

Title/Author:  The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology, Romance

Published:  October 18th, 2011 by Scholastic Inc.

Hardcover, 409 pages.

How I Got This Book:  Checked it out from my library.

Why I Picked It Up?:  Blogs all over have been raving about the beauty and awesomeness of this novel, so I decided to check it out for myself!

Book Jacket blurb:  “Some race to win.  Others race to survive.

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.

As she did in her bestselling Shiver trilogy, author Maggie Stiefvater takes us to the breaking point, where both love and life meet their greatest obstacles, and only the strong of heart can survive.  The Scorpio Raves is an unforgettable reading experience.”

My Review of this Work:

This is the story of the island of Thisby, located off the coast of some unknown mainland that is not America, where every fall and fantastical and magical and horrific event occurs–the rise of the water horses.  Each October, the capaill uisce rise from the ocean waters, hungry and raving mad.  But these horses do not eat hay–they eat flesh and blood:  human flesh and blood.  Every year, the island holds the most dangerous sporting event on earth.  The Scorpio Races, a horse race using these man-eating, scary water horses.  Men from across the island will attempt to catch and train these horses, and many will lose their lives.

Sean Kendrick is a young man who loves a horse–one of the capaill usice–and would do anything to buy him from the richest man on the island, and consequently his boss.  All Sean wants is freedom and independence, so he races (and wins) year after year with the hopes of saving enough to buy his horse, Corr.   Puck Connolly is just a girl trying to keep what is left of her family together and alive.  After losing her parents to a tragic accident involving the capaill usice, she makes a desperate attempt at ensuring her and her brother’s survival–she enters the races as the first female rider in the history of the race.  And the townspeople are not so accepting of this break of tradition.

The Scorpio Races is a novel of intrigue and carefully developed suspense, creating an island where a strange mythology rules and torments its inhabitants.  First off, I must give credit where credit is due, and Maggie Stiefvater deserves credit for creating a vividly beautiful story, taking different parts of a common mythology and making her own unique story.  Truly, it is a beautifully written and magical story.

And I will also say, I absolutely loved the character development, especially of Sean and Puck (Kate).  As these are the two characters that tell this story, as a reader I really felt like I completely related to both of them on every level  possible.  I loved that we really got into both of their heads
so that we could understand both of their perspectives and situations.  Truly, the meshing of these two characters’ perspectives is just flawless.  And their developing romance is probably one of the best romances I have read in YA this year.  It was not an instalove, but just a slow-developing, learning to trust each other relationship that turned into something so incredibly beautiful.

There was a glaring negative for me, one that I cannot wrap my mind around.  As beautiful written as this story is, there was just something about this novel that left me feeling empty when I finished it.  The first 300 pages is a lot of slow-developing backstory and history of the characters, the island, and the races.  It was beautifully written, but it wasn’t all that exciting.  Then at page 300, the excitement picks up, and the slow-going beginning has been totally worth it because pages 300-400 are just so incredible!!!  And then I read pages 401-405….and I was left with this sense of incompleteness.  Many times novels leave me wanting more.  But this novel left me wanting more in a bad way–like I didn’t get a good enough conclusion. I needed an epilogue.  Actually, I needed the last 4 pages to be the epilogue, because I actually loved the ending scene, and just needed an completed ending to the story, telling me more.

Overall, this novel was beautiful.  But there was just something missing that completely outweighs the beauty of the mythology this time.  I wanted to love this novel, I truly did.  But I just couldn’t.  I do like it, though!  It wasn’t horrible by any means.  I just needed more than what I got this time.

My Bookshelf Rating:

A Middle Shelf Book!

I don’t know if it was my timing with reading this novel or what, but I just wanted more out of it.  Though this had probably one of the most beautiful developing romances, I was just left with this sense of the story being unfinished, and I don’t like feeling that way.  Maybe with a re-read I will feel better about it, but for now it will remain at a 3.5 rating.

Love and horseraces,
Jennifer

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