Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Scorpio Races

What I like about Maggie Stiefvater's writing in general is the way she takes completely different spins on myths. For example, her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy is a completely different spin on the werewolf myth. And it's refreshing. It's nice to read something like that every once in a while. Now, The Scorpio Races is based on the water horse myth, which isn't one that is as well-known, at least not to me. I didn't really know much about the myth going into the book, but after I finished it, I did a little research and found that Stiefvater once again changed the myth to fit her story and her characters. And I loved it.

The Scorpio Races is about two teenagers who live on the island of Thisby, a place that is only known to the world during the month of November, when the water horses come out. Once a year, men capture these horses (horses that could eat them, mind you) and race on them. Sean Kendrick, who lost his father in the races, has won 4 times, earning him a kind of respect around the island, despite his prickly demeanor. And he is ready to win again. Until Puck Connolly comes along. Puck is the first women to enter the races, throwing the island into a frenzy. Puck and Sean's lives collide, and what will happen is thrown to the fate of the race.

The first thing that caught my attention about this book was the first line: "It is the first day of November so, today, someone will die." How can you not want to keep reading after this line? Stiefvater draws you in, becuase you want to know why someone is going to die. What possibly could happen that this fact is so sure? And once you're drawn into this book, you will not want to put it down. Puck and Sean are such well developed characters that you really come to care about their fate. You want to keep reading because you want to know what happens to them. You want them both to win the races, but you know that's not possible, so you have to keep reading to know what happens. An excellent tactic to make the readers continue reading, and I definitely think this book fits the Printz honor that it won. Brilliant writing.

I think the only qualm I had about the book was it took me a little bit to really understand what the scorpio races actually were. While you don't necessarily want the author to just come out and explain them, it also shouldn't take such a long time to understand what is actually going on. I felt this could have been explained a little better at the beginning, and that might have drawn me even more into the story. But I love Stiefvater's writing style, she has a knack at describing a place so vividly, and having the tone of the novel match the setting. This last point is key, I think. I imagined Thisby to be this dreary, not very happy place because of the tone of Stiefvater's writing. I think that's brilliant. The way she writes really draws you into the story, and doesn't let you go until it's finished.

Next I will be reading Divergent by Veronica Roth. Another book I got from ALAN, actually. It looks to be an interesting book. Until next time, happy reading! :)

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