Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

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.
My thoughts:
I seem to be one of the few who didn't actually like Maggie Stiefvater's The Wolves of Mercy Falls, but since my problem was more with the werewolves than her writing I was still excited to read The Scorpio Races. (And even more excited that it's something as rare as a standalone book from a well-known author.)

I was not let down. Not only is the writing both unique and beautiful, but Stiefvater has managed to use two completely different, personal voices for Puck's and Sean's point of view. The chapters flowed together effortlessly, and I got so connected to both of the main characters that I often found myself wondering what one was doing while I was reading about the other.

Puck was incredibly easy to like. Not because she's perfect; far from it. In the beginning of the story she often comes across as both childish and petulant, and only thinks about how events affect her. Puck doesn't go through a huge transformation, but does becomes more sure of herself and her own aspirations, and picks up some of the empathy she's been lacking. What made me like her so much is that she's not the most beautiful, the smartest, or even the nicest, but she still comes across as a great girl, and you just want to root for her.

Sean quickly became a favorite of mine. His connection to the horses (both the water horses and the regular ones) was incredible, and through his gestures, whispers and loving touches I felt as if I really shared that connection. There was just something so different about him, not just from the other characters in The Scorpio Races, but also from every other male lead in YA. Instead of the author focusing on how hot, popular or cool he is, she shows us (and I mean she actually shows, not just tells) what an amazingly good guy he is.

My only problem with The Scorpio Races was the pacing. The first 350 pages or so of the story focused on the preparations leading up to the race, and so when the race finally began it ended up feeling a little anti-climatic to me. I wish there had been a little more action, and more about the origin and myths of the water horses, but other than that I really enjoyed this book. And if there's one thing I can say about The Scorpio Races, it's that it's hands down the most original Young Adult fantasy I have ever read.

Simple, yet fitting.

My rating of this book:

Want to know more?
Add The Scorpio Races to your Goodreads wish list
Visit Maggie Stiefvater's website
Read Maggie's blog
Follow Maggie on Twitter

Full disclosure:
Checked out at my local library

This book can be purchased from a number of local retailers and online book stores like Amazon and The Book Depository (I'm not an affiliate of either). The latter store has free shipping to about 100 countries.


  1. I didn´t know it was a standalone novel until just now. This made me more interested:-)I haven´t read the Wolves of Mercy Falls but I´ve heard a lot about her good writing.

  2. Ooh I'm so glad this one was a winner, I have it on my kindle. I didn't realise it was a standalone novel either :)

  3. That sounds like a lot of time leading up to the race, I am pretty sure that would have annoyed me immensely

  4. I still haven't read this one but I did enjoy her Shiver series. I'm really curious about it especially since everyone seems to have really mixed opinions. Awesome review.

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  5. I know quite a few people who are reading this right now. Very nice review. I'm definitely going to check this one out.

  6. I am so happy to hear you enjoyed this! I love all Maggie's stories and her beautiful prose <3 I definitely agree with you on the characters, they were so unique and... refreshing. I really felt a strong bond with Puck and Sean. And that setting felt so real and vibrant. Plus it's nice to read a standlone YA for a change, when so many leave us on cliffhangers these days. Fantastic review!

  7. I heard this book was a must read for Harry Potter and Hunger Games fans, of which I am both, but it wasn't exactly my cup of tea. I found the book very confusing and slow at times, lacking detail that my imagination craves but half way through it gets better. The first half of the book is jumbled and confusing but once you hit the last half you are thrown onto a thrill ride and then suddenly it ends. There is much to be desired from this book but it is a unique and interesting read.

  8. What a wonderfully complex and cultured book! I was so inspired and uplifted. There was certainly a feeling of hope for the future for the characters at the end!
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