Monday, October 17, 2011

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Release date: October 18, 2011
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 416
Format: Advance Reader's Copy
Source: Page & Palette Bookstore
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
 | The Book Depository

Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

From Goodreads:
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.
Oh my. Words honestly cannot express how beautiful story this was, even with all of the bloody death associated. The ending was breathtaking and lovely and perfect. People have complained about the fact that very little action happens till the end of the book, but that's the beauty of Maggie's writing: it doesn't matter. You spend the time feeling the sand between your toes and the rocks under your feet, the motion of the horse under you and the wind in your hair, eliminating all other sounds but the whipping. 

While there is not much action during most of the book, there is still a lot going on. The Scorpio Races is not just about the races, but about the people in them and just what it takes to get there. It's about the families on the island of Thisby and their strength and love of their island. There is so much to take in that you really don't need action.

I consider The Scorpio Races to be the best of Maggie's books to date (though I haven't read Ballad yet... I liked Lament, but didn't love it like Shiver, so I'm putting it in there somewhere...) Her beautiful prose is no different here, but the story here is more intricate and heartfelt than in her other books. The character's pain is your pain and their joy is your joy.

Sean's relationship with Corr, his water horse, was especially touching. Seeing an animal that is portrayed at all other times of the novel as vicious and bloodthirsty doesn't give a good impression. But when Sean talks about Corr his love is palpable, which is not an easy thing to portray. Love can fall flat, but Sean's deep love for Corr is a special thing.

And while there is a human antagonist, who is repulsive and terrible, Maggie Stiefvater has made the island itself an antagonist as well. This is something so hard to do and can so easily crash and burn, but the Thisby has an almost malevolent feel to it at times. It is rebelling against what the people of the island want, mostly just because it can. But the people of the island love their home and stick around, showing their deep character.

Our love story grew slowly and patiently, culminating in nothing mystical but completely real and beautiful, a rarity in young adult fiction right now. And, it's a standalone! Some stories are perfect just the way they are, and The Scorpio Races is one of those stories. A sequel or a whole series would destroy the rare beauty the story conveys.

Risk a paper cut? Read The Scorpio Races. Read it huddled in your covers on a cold night. Read it at the edge of a cliff. Read it in the middle of the bookstore. Read it hidden in the branches of your favorite tree. Just read it.

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