Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Hardcover: 409 pages
Release date: October 11th, 2011
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Goodreads Rating: 4.13
Goodreads Summary: 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.
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Maggie Stiefvater was one of the first authors who introduced me to YA in early 2010. I enjoyed Shiver and I knew from then that I’d devour the rest of the series as well as everything else written by Maggie. 

The Scorpio Races was a great read and as expected, I did indulge myself on beautifully crafted images and words. What I didn’t see coming is the realization after finishing this. In my opinion, it’s the best Maggie Stiefvater book so far. 

There’s no such thing as overwritten in it because every word is significant. Everything fits perfectly: the plot, the characters, and the splendid take on the capall uisce (pronounced as CAPple ISHka) lore. The world-building is stunning and I’m presented with an original and imaginative story. Seriously, who else have thought of writing a story about water horses? Right. No one. (None that I know of anyway) 

Here, we are introduced to the two main characters, Kate “Puck” Connelly and Sean Kendrick, who have all the reason to win in the annual Scorpio Race. Puck’s parents were killed almost a year ago by the vicious water horses that emerge from the sea, aka capaill uisce, leaving her and her two brothers to fend for themselves in the island of Thisby. When her older brother Gabe chooses to leave them and go to the mainland, Puck had no choice but to join the Scorpio Races to stop him from leaving, or at least delay his imminent departure. To make matters worse, their house will be taken away from them. This only strengthens Puck’s resolve to join the races and try to make ends meet. Now enter the four-time Scorpio Races winner, Sean Kendrick, who grew up alongside capaill uisce and taming them as best as he could. There’s only one thing important to him and that is Corr, a red water horse that he considers his family. But Corr is owned by Benjamin Malvern and winning one more time in the races means opportunity to buy Corr and freedom from the Malverns.

The story is told from Sean and Puck’s POV and that gave me the chance to get inside both of their heads. Sean is a man of few words and mostly keeps things to himself. I simply adore him and his courage and determination and his rare talent at pacifying the aggressive stallions. Puck on the other hand is undoubtedly one of the few heroines that made a remarkable impression on me this year. She has flaws—ones which made her so real to me and I knew just from the beginning that I would connect to her.

If I knew that this book doesn’t evolve much about romance, I would have been a little put-off and reluctant to pick it up. But don’t be discouraged because as far as slow-building romance goes, Maggie had done it impeccably. I was pleased with the pace of how their relationship went from strangers and opponents to friends and then much later on lovers. The fleeting swoon-worthy moments were definitely worth waiting for.

Dove (Puck’s horse) and Corr are both as important as the main characters. The story is about them in the first place and Sean and Puck are the anchors and guides. In the end, I’m not ashamed to admit of being attached to fictional animals.

The ending was perfect. It wasn’t much of a closure and was more open-ended, but surprisingly I liked it that way. It squeezed my heart and kept me up at night and the next day, I couldn’t read another book. Not yet… knowing that I need time to absorb it all. The Scorpio Races explore the nature of true love. Not just romantic love but love in general. I usually buy books that I know I will at least like. And I will never regret buying this. It’s 482 pages of masterpiece and originality and I can definitely see a reread in the future.

Favorite Quotations: 

“That's a poor match, Sean Kendrick," says a voice at my elbow. It's the other sister from Fathom & Sons, and she follows my gaze to Puck. "Neither of you are a housewife."
I don't look away from Puck. "I think you assume too much, Dory Maud."
"You leave nothing to assumption," Dory Maud says. "You swallow her with your eyes. I'm surprised there's any of her left for the rest of us to see.” 

“There are moments that you'll remember for the rest of your life and there are moments that you think you'll remember for the rest of your life, and its not often they turn out to be the same moment.” 

“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.” 

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