Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Publisher's 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.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater is solidly a young adult offering: horses (including mythological fictional sea horses), a love interest, coming of age, orphans, danger and adventure. I can imagine my 11 year old self (The Scorpio Races is solidly PG rating - very family friendly) obsessing over every detail of this novel. Puck's island pony (horse) Dove is the pony (horse) I always wanted as a little girl (and pretty much the pony (horse) my fifteen year old self was gifted for Christmas one year). Sean is the dreamy but somewhat unattainable boy that is half as horse-crazy as I would have been in Puck's shoes. A sweet and charming novel with a National Velvet quality (though I preferred the much less popular International Velvet as there was jumping involved).

Here's my dilemma with reading young adult fiction as an adult - the story is smooth, sweet and entertaining. I did like the novel, I enjoyed the writing and I loved the narration of the audiobook. It's a solid offering, well deserving of all of the early accolades and adoration. But, there is a chunk of complexity that is missing from most young adult/teen fiction that I find hard to forgive, this is precisely why Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver series hasn't piqued my interest (Twilight falls into this category as well) before picking up the Scorpio Races.

However, The Scorpio Races came highly recommended by not one, but two of my GoodReads friends, the premise sounded entertaining enough and there I was with an audible credit to spend and a road trip to the Bullmastiff Trial coming up. So I downloaded The Scorpio Races. I knew at the onset that the novel could only finish with one possible ending - sure there were other variables - but as the story unfolds the question is how the characters get to the end, not what their end will be. Perhaps I am tainted - or perhaps that eleven year old Erica would have figured out the novel's conclusion the beginning of the novel too. Perhaps the real difference is that eleven year old Erica would have figured out the ending, but would have savored the ride to get there - even if the end was spinning down predictably. The thirty-five year old Erica isn't as patient - or forgiving.

That isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the novel (I very much did), but there is something - just something - about figuring out a novel's conclusion with the characters (or sometimes just after the characters) that is more satisfying in the adsorption of a novel.

The Scorpio Races was written by Maggie Stiefvater and published by Scholastic Audio. The Scorpio Races was narrated by Steve West and Fiona Hardingham. The Scorpio Races were published in audio and hardcover format on 10/18/2011 and has a runtime of 12 hours 6 minutes.

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