Maggie Stiefvater signed at my local bookstore last week, so after the review will be the rafflecopter entry to win the extra signed copy. (Also, I did a Looks From Books post on these characters this weekend.)
Book: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, narrated by Steve West and Fiona Hardingham.
Summary: I normally write my own summaries, but this one is really hard. Maggie Stiefvater said she explained it to her publisher as "Jurassic Park meets My Little Pony" and I'm not sure I can do much better. So for once, I'm going with the copy from Good Reads:
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.
Characters: Characters make or break a book for me and since this is easily my favorite read of 2012, it is safe to assume that I love these characters. I've said before that I have never wanted to be a character so bad as I want to be Puck Connolly and that is true. She isn't sweet (neither am I), but she's brave and she loves and she hides her hurt and risks everything for what she wants. Sean is strong and passionate. He excels at what he does and he knows it. He doesn't brag, but he isn't fake humble, either. He is so wrapped up in his world that he is barely effected by the politics of life that drag most people down.
And there is romance. Not the swoony, he's the love interest so he's a jerk in the beginning or their love will save everyone kind of romance. But real love. There are only a few kisses in this book, but it is the most intense relationship since Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie (at least in how obsessed with it I am). In one scene (my favorite scene), Sean and Puck ride a horse together and it is seriously the most intense, intimate scene I have ever read. At one point, Puck is told that to make men love her, she needs to make them feel strong, but that is not what Sean and Pucks relationship is at all. She makes him feel weak, but they make each other stronger. This is seriously one of my all time favorite literary couples.
Everything about this book feels real and all of the characters that surround Sean and Puck are no exception. Even if we meet them briefly, we get a sense that they have an entire life they are living. My favorite characters (besides Sean and Puck) are easily George Holly and Finn. George Holly is a thirty-something American horse buyer who is visiting the races for horse season. He meddles a bit (in a nice sort of way) and is friendly and fun. I love his white shoes and the way he smiles easily. Finn is Puck's younger brother who is a bit OCD. Puck may say that her horse, Dove, is her best friend, but only because Finn doesn't count because he's her brother.
Plot/Pacing: This story sucked me in from the beginning and had the perfect balance of tension and humor. About halfway through something happened that gave the two protagonists opposing goals. This KILLED me, because by that point all I wanted was for them to be happy together (it was right after the intense intimate scene that is my favorite in the whole book).
But the tension was more than just the question of whether the main characters would get what they want. The author took advantage of every single opportunity to add tension. The water horses are torn between wanting to eat you and wanting to drown you, so there is the constant danger that someone will die. (First sentence: "It's the first day of November, and so, today someone will die.") The island is all bent out of sorts that Puck (a girl/woman!) will ride in the races. The son of Sean's employer hates Sean so much he seeks to ruin his life. And in all of this, there is so much unexpected laughter and so many tender moments as real people connect.
As soon as I finished listening to this book, I started it over. I NEVER do that. I think I enjoyed it even more the second time. I've also got this book on kindle and in hardcover. I've flipped through and read bits and pieces, but I'm excited to read the written version now.
Moments I Loved: Did I mention the scene where Sean and Puck ride together and it is intimate and romantic and beautiful and lovely? Because, even though there are so many scenes to love, I loved that one most of all.
WTF Moments: The "Jurassic Park moment" as Maggie described it at the reading was scary and fun. Puck and her brother, Finn, are sitting outside under a lean-to when a cappal uisce (that would be a hungry water horse) comes nosing around. SO SCARY!!! I could literally hear the rain and the horse's breath and feel the cold during this part.
Narrators: I usually don't review audiobooks on audible.com, but for The Scorpio Races, I did. This is what I said about the narrators: This is hands down the best audiobook I have ever listened to. The narrators were both amazing and fit the story perfectly. They added a special magic to an already extraordinary book.
Overall: The message in this book is that survival isn't enough. Happiness is worth risking everything for. But it's true happiness. Puck and Sean know what they want and there was never any doubt in my mind that they would both be content when they got it. I can seriously get down with the message in this book.
Reading Challenges: This book counts toward the following challenges: Read Me Baby, One More Time, because I listened to it twice. Track all my progress on my 2012 Challenges page.
|But I'm pretty sure it deserves a whole tube of lipstick.|