Wednesday, May 2, 2012

First book review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Everyone else in the world has a book review blog, so I figured I would post some book reviews on here. Recently, I read The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. This was an amazing YA novel. It was not what I was expecting - it was better. For those of you that don't know, the book tells the story of two teenagers living on a small island which annually draws in tourists to the famous Scorpio Races. This event is very dangerous, as people catch capaill uisce (fantastical, vicious, deadly water horses) and tame them to ride in the races. Only men traditionally ride, and Kate Conolly (Puck) defies convention by entering. The narrative alternates between her voice and that of Sean Kendrick, another contestant in the races. Most of the book follows the preparation for the race; the actual race occupies very little space in the novel. Sean Kendrick was not as interesting a character for me, but I did feel that I had a very good sense of who he was and what he wanted out of life.

However, the best thing about this book is that despite it containing elements of fantasy, at its core, it is a story that conveys universally relatable themes. It is a story of a girl trying desperately to do whatever she can to keep her family together. It is a story of a boy who wants nothing more than to be able to own the horse he loves. There is a strong friendship that promises to blossom into romance very naturally. I like that Puck is a strong female character and yet Maggie Stiefvater does not attempt to make her "bad-ass." She has parts of her that are strong and bold, and yet, she still has vulnerabilities and fears. These weaknesses make her real and make it hard not to root for her. I loved her relationships with her brothers, and I felt the island of Thisby was a very well-developed setting. Stiefvater also managed to explore class tensions and the clash between those who cannot live the island life and those who cannot imagine any other way, particularly within Puck's own family.

This novel was thrilling, funny, and written in a very strong voice. I would like to read more novels with characters like Puck. Reading this book made me very excited to read Stiefvater's upcoming novel, The Raven Boys, which has a release date of September 18th.

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