Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Scorpion Races by Maggie Steifvater

Title: The Scorpio Races
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Published: October, 2011 by Scholastic
Pages: 482
Rating:4/5 stars

 "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 choice. So she enters the competition - the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen."

Being truly honest, I have always been cautious of Maggie Stiefvater’s books. However, I found myself compelled to read The Scorpion Races after reading the blurb and boy am I glad I did!
What this book is about are horses that eat people! I know an attention grabber already!!!

The book is set on an island, I think it could be set in Scotland-hence why it kind of remind me of the new Pixar movie “Brave”, since the main character reminds me of the heroine in The Scorpion Races what with her ginger hair and trying to get involved in an-all-male sport. In the seas round the island live water horses. They are wild, fast, dangerous and devour anything in their way, so it’s safe to say they are certainly NOT like any land horses, despite their appearances being the same. However, they can be captured (after some struggle) and entered every November into the Scorpion Races. However, it is not ordinary race, since the riders have to fight the water horses’ attempts to run back into the sea and attack their riders. Each year in November, riders die.....dum dum dum (sorry it seemed like the perfect moment to include a dramatic tune!).

The Scorpion Races have been held In Thisby as long as anyone can remember and the residents can only survival economically because of the tourists it attracts. Most of the residents race for the prize money and to become famous. Thisby is a very poor place, with not much prospects for the people living there. Thisby is a small island in the middle of nowhere and winning the races for some people, helps them escape their glum life. However, for some, despite its poor status, Thisby will always be home.
After losing his father to the races when he was ten, Sean Kendrick becomes the reigning champion for four years straight and is the only one who seems to be able to control the horses. He is a calm and collected young man and people respect him. He has a passion for the sea and for the seahorse Corr – a horse that is owned by Sean’s employer, Benjamin Malvern. He wants to use the prize money to buy Corr from his employer and there seems little that can stand in his way, until a girl called Puck Connolly enters the race.

Puck Connolly despises the races ever since it had killed both her parents, leaving her, her older brother Gabe and her younger brother Finn to fend for themselves. However, one day Gabe decided to leave Thisby and without thinking, for him to stay a bit longer in her beloved island, she decides to enter the races. Not only that, but the prize money will help buy her their house, that is this close to being taken by the owner. Who is none other than Mr Malvern. She is the first girl to ever do so and she will race with her regular, normal beloved horse. Puck is adamant and fierce. I love this character, as she is not scared to stick up for herself in this all-male-sport, despite being told numerous times. She has a bit of feminine instinct in her, which makes me admire her even more. In fact, the story itself carried a hint of women independence and Maggie cleverly questions the fact that despite some sports being deemed dangerous for women, the only thing that actually counts is courage, which Puck certainly has. It is a coming of age story for her, from her childish motivation to enter the races, to paying attention to what she wear, to staying on the races despite what everyone says.
The writing is as beautiful. The characters, and who they are, drive the story and although there is an element of romance, it is not intense or heavy-handed. It is a romance that I love the most. Its very subtle. It actually starts off with an uneasy acquaintance, to a make-shift alliance to something more. More often than not, they stand together in silence, but that just feeds into their growing relationship. They both share a sense of loss, but they also share a love for things people do not understand. Sean and his love for the seahorses and Puck and her love for the island. 
The story is told from the point of view of Sean and Puck in alternating chapters that we gain an understanding of what winning the race means for both of them. The actually pace of the story is slow and the race itself doesn’t kick off until the last 10% of the book. However, once the races starts, is all very fast and action packed.
Despite its name, The Scorpio Races is not really about the seahorses or about the races at all. It is about the people that run on the races and about the island that depends on them. It carried numerous themes, such as family love, friendship, death, jealously, love and hope.
However, I didn't like the ending. I think it ended abruptly and it didn't give us any awareness of what may happen to both Sean and Puck's relationship and most importantly (for me), Sean himself.

Nevertheless, I'm gutted that this book is not part of a series. 
Notable quotes/passages:
Chapter fifty-two: “I say, “I will not be your weakness, Sean Kendrick.”
                             Now he looks at me. He says, very softly, “It’s late for that, Puck.””

Vlog review (check out ThePageTurners1 link for more):

Book Trailer:

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