Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Thursday, May 10, 2012

Plot Summary:
Every November, the island of Thisby hosts the Scorpio Races. Around this time, the dangerous creature known as the Capaill Uisce (water horses) come ashore and terrorize the citizens of this island. The person who manages to ride a water horse, and live to tell, is the winner of the races and lays claim to the coveted title. However, this race is not an average race; those who race their horses don't fear that their steeds will try and eat them. For Sean Kendrick, racing is in his blood. As a the former champion, he returns to the Scorpio Races to re-claim his title. The race this year isn't going to be easily, especially when Puck Connolly enters the race as the first female ever to compete in the races. Unlike Sean, Puck, short for Kate, she lives with her brothers and does the best she can. She recently lost both her parents in a tragic accident and she must take care of Gabe and Finn. Unlike her brothers, she has a knack for riding that is not only impressive, she can almost out run Finn in his car. What was supposed to be another day, the fate of the Connolly unit is threatened when Gabe makes his unexpected announcement. In order to prevent any life altering changes, Puck announces that she will ride in the Scorpio Races. Despite the objections of other competitors, Kate will not only compete to win the competition, but she will win it riding on Dove--an island pony. For Sean, not only is he intrigued by her bravery, he starts to see a part of himself in her, which not only wakens something within him, but forces him to make a decision he dreads.

Critical Evaluation:
I will admit that I had a hard time getting into this book in the beginning, but once I stuck with it, I was sold. I absolutely loved that Stiefvater described this story as "My Little Pony meets Jurassic Park." I am an equine lover, but ever time I hear about stories with girls and horses, my gag reflex kicks in slightly. However, Stiefvater has written a story that it not just packed with plenty of action, violence, blood, and gore, there is also a nice touch of romance, hope, and celebration. What I also appreciate is that this book will appeal to both guys and girls, especially where the horses are the stars of the story and the result if this race brings upon a budding romance. Besides the "gushy" stuff, the plot is a lot heavier than we thought. The readers discover that Sean and the Connolly's have one experience in common: they have lost their parents. Puck has serious abandonment issues that not only force drive the anger she feels for Gabe, but forces her into the Scorpio Races in order to keep their family unit together. Furthermore, she really had no choice but to enter the race because she could lose her parents home, which is something she cannot part with. Another issue that is explored is the definition of "home." Many people on Thisby stay or leave for the mainland and never come back. Unlike Gabe, Puck is happy living in the town she grew up with and doesn't want anything else other than her family and Dove. For Sean, he refuses to leave because of his love for Corr and his dream to live in his father's house. Granted, the Puck and Sean are two very different people, they literally share one soul when it comes to their horses and desire to feel alive. Through out this story, another underlying theme is being honesty. Rather than running away, like most people, both Sean and Puck refuse to settle for contentment by making their dreams come true. Both of these characters know deep down inside what it is that want and they dare to have hope that these wishes will come true. By taking chances and and admitting to themselves, and others, what they want they take a huge leap of faith/risk to make these dreams a reality. Readers will admire these two teens not just for their bravery, but for their audacity to take their fate into their own hands. The ending of this book nearly brought me to tears because despite all of our monstrous appearances, and actions, like the water horses, we know deep down in our hearts where we belong and with who. 

Information about the Author:
According to her beautiful website, Maggie Stiefvater:
All of my life decisions have been based around my inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you’re a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which I’ve tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists, musicians, and artists (I’ve made my living as one or another of these since I was 22).
I now live an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia, with my charmingly straight-laced husband, two small kids, two neurotic dogs, one criminally insane cat, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki. I’m an avid reader, an award-winning colored pencil artist, and play several musical instruments, including the Celtic harp, the piano, and the bagpipes. I also make great cocktail party conversation.
Genre:
Teen Fantasy

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to The Scorpio Races:

Awards & Recognition:
  • 2012 Michael L. Printz Award Honor
  • 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Times Award Finalist
  • 2012 ALA Notable Books for Children
  • Publisher's Weekly Best Children's Books of 2011

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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