Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater





Title: The Scorpio Races
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Pub deets: October 2011, Scholastic
Source: Borrowed from Hannah at So Obsessed With
Challenges: TBR Challenge



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In a sentence or so: Sean races to win and to remind himself that he belongs on the island. Puck races to save her house and possibly her family. Only one person can win the race of the water horses, though many will die in the attempt.

Kate ‘Puck’ Connolly has always lived on the island. It’s in her bones. Even after the water horses killed her parents in a boating accident, Puck can’t imagine living anywhere else. The same cannot be said for her older brother, however, who plans on moving from the island. Puck thinks she can stop him, or at least delay him, by signing up as the first girl ever to race.

Sean Kendrick has also been orphaned by the races after his dad missed the cue from the water horse and met his end on the beach like so many other racers. Being somewhat of a guru horse whisperer, Sean has won 4 years in a row with his water horse...but he searches for something more: his freedom. Winning this year will give him the prize money to win his horse outright and leave the stables for good.

This is one of those books that’s YA but totally could have been an Adult book. The pacing is slow and deliberate, the character development is patient, and the story transcends horse racing and really speaks to the heart of the reader in unexpected ways.

About ⅓ of the way through, I was starting to get impatient. I wanted Things to Happen and it just didn't feel like it was going to. I realize now the point of The Scorpio Races wasn't the action, but in the development and set up and depth that Maggie Stiefvater poured into each and every one of her characters and settings. The details are rich and the characters, even the third and fourth tier ones, have motivations and stories that we want to hear.

There is a slow burn non-traditional YA romance happening between Puck and Sean but mostly it’s about them coming into their own person, on their own time. The races bring them together, but they also bring about self discovery and purpose and vision and THAT, my friends, is the golden core of this novel. Experiencing two different characters growing and learning and changing and becoming adults right before our eyes is an incredible gift that Maggie gives us.

If you’re looking for a slower YA stand alone book with depth and lots of life questions being asked, an island that’s relentless and mysterious, and a haunting mythology of Water Horses that ties it all together, read The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

Pairs well with: Freshly baked bread and honey. They make these special cakes on the island that sound AMAZING and frequently fresh bread is discussed and oh man it makes you crave some fresh out the oven bread like no other!

Fix er up: Maybe if I had known going into it that it was going to be a slower read, it wouldn’t have bothered me as much as it did. Hopefully I save you that surprise!

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.

29 comments:

  1. Insightful review! I have this in my to-read list :)

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  2. SO much love for this book. I listened to the audiobook and It. Is. AMAZING! You need to go listen to an excerpt!!!!

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  3. I've been debating picking this one back up. I got about halfway through and stopped because I felt like nothing was happening. I WANT to like it...I just don't know if I can. I read Shiver and didn't like it, so I wonder if I am just not meant for Stiefvater? I feel like I should try The Raven Boys before giving up completely!

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    1. I seriously wondered the same thing as I was reading this but peeps were like JUST KEEP GOING. I liked Shiver, was meh on Linger and did not finish Forever. I want to give Raven Boys a try too!

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  4. Ah, this book. I love it so, so much, mostly because I think the characters and the settings were so well done. Plus, I adore Maggie's writing style! So glad you liked it :)

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  5. I felt like that about Raven Boys -- I just wanted something to happen. Set it down several times, and picked it back up. But I never finished it. Now I'm worried about this one. I'll have to make sure I'm in the right mood....because I've heard so much good about Scorpio Races (and Raven Boys too, as far as that goes.)

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    1. Good to know. I think you just need to be in the mood for her writing.

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  6. I read this during one of the most stressful months of wedding planning and I wish I would have just put it down and picked it up at another time because the slowness KILLED ME. Normally this would totes be my jam..the writing is just GORGEOUS. And her descriptions and they way you just can SEE and FEEL this island was just AMAZING. I think I didn't enjoy it as much as everyone else because of my bad timing...when I really needed something fast paced and fluffy. I'm going to give this a reread though!

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    1. Agreed - the seeing and feeling of her writing is incredible. I hope you enjoy the reread when it happens!

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  7. I totally have to agree with your assessment, Lisa. I was sort of expecting a quicker pace and more mythology to the whole "killer sea horses" thing, and that's the only thing that sort of let me down. But I do LOVE LOVE LOVE the slow build in the relationship between Puck and Sean instead of the insta-love we usually get from these types of books. Maggie is a brilliant writer when it comes to the depth and development she gives her characters and it totally just sucks you in. I really enjoyed this book but still think I liked The Raven Boys even more!

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  8. I bought this ebook when it was on sale and still have yet to read it! Glad to know ahead of time that it's a slow read...otherwise I think I would have been bothered by it like you were. Thanks for the review!

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  9. Slow burn, subtle romances are ALWAYS my favorite. I find them to be the most meaningful, and less annoying and angsty. I was also antsy for something to happen the first time that I read it, but I've also gone back and savored every moment of this book. I love the small scenes that mean so much. You're right, this book appeals to a variety of audiences. A friend did it with a middle school book group, and I read it last year and would rate it in my top favorites ever. I agree that this is one of the best audios out there.

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  10. This is such a slow, beautiful story and I really appreciated the focus on Puck and Sean as individuals, rather than rushing to put them together as a couple.

    Lovely review, Lisa!

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    1. Agreed - we learn about them as PEOPLE before we care about them as anything else. I respect that a lot.

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  11. Look: Maggie has a recipe for November Cakes on her blog:)

    http://maggiestiefvater.blogspot.com/2011/12/my-name-is-maggie-im-perfectionist-and.html

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  12. So while I appreciated the slowness in The Raven Boys, it drove me crazy in this book. I did manage to finish but I wanted things to happen much sooner than they did.

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    1. it's good to know that the slower pace is not unique to this book!

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  13. I loved this one, but I agree that it was a slower read. I honestly love anything Maggie does though. :)

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  14. Oh I LOVED this one! I really didn't find it slow at all, but rather inviting. Like it was super easy to get lost in the world and want to stay there forever. Also, I would TOTALLY eat some fresh bread and honey with this! Yummo!

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  15. I feel that in general Maggie Stiefvater's style is the slow burn :P I read Shiver and I had trouble getting through it because it was pretty slow and very focussed on intense character development. I enjoyed it, but you definitely need some time and energy set aside to tackle it. Thanks for the review :)

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  16. The audiobook is magical. I loved how out of the box it was for a YA. It was a nice surprise.

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  17. Lisa! Maggie actually has a recipe for November cakes--I've made them and they are delicious! Here's the recipe: http://www.flickr.com/photos/maggiestiefvater/6505338297/

    A lot of work, but WORTH it to try them. And you're right, I expected this book to be about the action of the race but it wasn't--and it was really better for that in the end. I love the relationship between Sean and Puck so much. Slow burn at its best.

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  18. So debating on reading this book but "Experiencing two different characters growing and learning and changing and becoming adults right before our eyes is an incredible gift that Maggie gives us." just sold me. I'm gonna get this ASAP! Great review Lisa!

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  19. Seriously FABULOUS review, Lisa! And I'm glad you mentioned that it's pretty slow, especially in the beginning. That's probably something I should have mentioned in my review but I just loved this book so much that I kind of blocked out the slow beginning. I think you expressed the strengths of this book really well - and I have such happy feelings knowing that you've read it now!

    I'm doing an audio reread right now (based on Asheley's audio recommendation) and HOLY COW it's an awesome audiobook! The readers are wonderful and it's making me fall even more in love with this book <3

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    1. Happy to hear the audio is worth it too!

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