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The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Publication date: Oct 18, 2011
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Category: Young Adult - Fantasy
Source: Borrowed from library
Summary: Every year, the Scorpio Races are run on the beaches of Skarmouth. Every year, the sea washes blood from the sand. To race the savage water horses can mean death, but the danger is irresistible. When Puck enters the races to save her family, she is drawn to the mysterious Sean, the only person on the island capable of taming the beasts. Even if they stay together, can they stay alive? (Adapted goodreads.com)
My thoughts…The good: My feelings on this book are so contradictory. I rated it a high 3.5 stars on Goodreads which means I liked it but didn't 5-star love it. And yet the day after finishing, I found myself ordering a copy, which I don't even always do for the books I do rave about. So why this one?
The Scorpio Races alternates between Puck Connolly and Sean Kendrick's point-of-views. Puck is a girl who has lost her parents to the "water horses" (mythical carnivorous horses from the sea) and lives with her two brothers on Skarmouth Island. Sean Kendrick is a regular, quiet boy who loves horses -- especially his water horse Corr, above all else. Their paths don't cross until the Scorpio Races which happens every November. Riders race their water horses, often to the death, and Sean has won 4 out of 6 times already. He meets Puck when she signs up for this year's race. She's the first female ever to do so and is in way over her head.
I loved the two main characters - Puck and Sean - so much. Puck is fierce and stubborn with a vulnerable side that showed itself in unexpected moments. In other words, she's my kind of heroine! She loves her family so much and to help them, she enters this race fully knowing the risks. What she didn't realize was that everyone on the island would be against it. In the face of opposition, she fights back though and has got some one-liners that made me cheer happily for her. On the other hand, Sean is a man of few words, but no less strong or even vulnerable as Puck. When he does choose to express himself, I found myself falling for him along with her. These individual characters and especially their relationship (once it finally gets moving) was undoubtedly the highlight of this book.
(Some) issues: My main issue with the book was the pacing. Maggie Stiefvater's writing is beautiful but frustratingly slow. For more than half the book, I felt like it dragged and not much was happening at all. I was just pushing myself to keep going and then finally I got to that moment. It's one between Puck and Sean which takes their relationship forward and it was just.. perfection. From that chapter on, I was completely swept up in their story and surprisingly emotional as I read the last scene of the book. But it's a long wait which may not pay off for everyone.
Do I recommend?: So despite my misgivings, why did I buy the book? Because days later, I still thought about Puck and Sean and how I wanted to reread all their scenes together. It's definitely a different kind of book and depending on what you're in the mood for, how you feel about it could go either way. I think it's worth giving a shot.