Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Book Recommendation: THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater

I’d heard about Ms. Stiefvater’s latest novel around Twitter and such, but it wasn’t until I read Kelly’s recommendation that I finally buckled down and requested the book from the library. (I had to wait for a few months, since she read it as an ARC, but I did request it back in November.) Thank goodness I did.

THE SCORPIO RACES chronicles the parallel plotlines of Kate “Puck” Connolly and Sean Kendrick as they train for the race that will define their young lives. The Scorpio Races are run on the backs of legendary water horses, flesh-eating predators that, while capable of running on land, usually live and hunt in the sea. They’re as fast as a tidal wave, if you can catch one--and if you can keep it from maiming or drowning you. But death is the least of Puck’s and Sean’s concerns. Puck has to win to keep her family’s homestead out of the hands of the island’s ruthless land baron; Sean has to win to claim ownership of the one thing on the island he’s ever wanted to own: the water horse he’s kept and trained since it trampled his father to death when he was a kid.

I loved the gray, drizzly world of the novel and how deeply I came to care about these characters and what was at stake for them. But most of all, I loved the depth, the realness, of Puck and Sean’s relationship. These two never gushed about how gorgeous the other was (in fact, their physical relationship only culminated in one earth-shattering kiss), and yet the magic between them was palpable. One scene in particular, in which Puck and Sean discussed their race strategies in front of her kitchen sink, just about made me melt. I actually read it OUT LOUD to Honey Bear because it set my heart aflutter and was just so perfect. I haven’t read a romance that soulful, that fulfilling, in a long, long time.

If you like horses, soul-deep romance, or expertly crafted characters with deeply personal stakes, you’ll love THE SCORPIO RACES. I can count on two hands the number of books I buy in a year (I’m really picky about which ones I add to my collection), but Honey Bear is under strict orders to buy this for me for Mother’s Day* (or something). It’s that good.

*He actually bought it for me for our anniversary yesterday. I knew this guy was a keeper:) (He also bought me Penelope, a modern-day fairy tale that came out several years ago. If you haven't seen it, SEE IT (although that will probably prove to be difficult, since I'm pretty sure I now own the only copy in existence). You'll come back and thank me, I promise, and I'll say, "You're welcome," and then you'll spend the next several years of your life trying to hunt down a copy in one of those bargain bins at Walmart. (I'll give you a hint: It's not there.) Then you'll finally break down and order a copy online. But it'll be worth it. SO worth it. (Another hint: James McAvoy.))


Matthew MacNish said...

I haven't read The Scorpio Races, but Shiver had such beautiful, poetic prose, and such an interesting way of looking at things, you could easily see Ms. Stiefvater had the chops to be quite a writer.

I'll have to pick this one up.

Cristina said...

I LOVE this book. And the scene by the kitchen sink??? it was the perfect romantic scene without all the cheese. That was my favorite scene in the whole book.

The writing is so beautiful, and so mature.

Noelle Henry said...

You've sold me on THE SCORPIO RACES. Sounds like my kind of book!

And I absolutely LOVE and ADORE the movie PENELOPE (haven't read the book). I've seen the movie so many times and it never gets old.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I loved this book more than her Wolves of Mercy Falls, and I adored all three of those. Just amazing writing.

Amanda said...

I own Penelope. I bought it way back when it came out. It's a great movie. You have good taste. :) But you are right, it would be hard to find now. The Scorpio Races was on my list of books to read. I'll have to bump it up to the top!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Yes, Matthew, you will have to pick this one up. Like Tasha, I preferred THE SCORPIO RACES to SHIVER.

Cristina, it was my favorite scene, too! No cheese, like you said, just real, believable characters acting believably. I may have to go back and reread that scene RIGHT NOW. *sighs*

Noelle, you'll have to let us know what you think of it. And three cheers for Penelope! I'm surprised more people haven't seen it. (P.S. So happy to see you over here! No matter what those other coaches might say or do, PICK ME, PICK ME!)

Tasha, to be honest, I didn't make it past SHIVER. (I think I was tired of werewolves by the time I finally picked it up.) But THE SCORPIO RACES is something special. It read like a stand-alone, but I wonder if Ms. Stiefvater will ever write more books in that world.

Amanda, THE SCORPIO RACES definitely deserves that bump! Like Noelle, you'll have to let us know what you think of it.

Mara Rae said...

I'm so glad you wrote this because I have The Scorpio Races in my queue and was debating reading that or another book next. Now my mind is made up!

Bethany Myers said...

I just finished this book and I am recommending it to everyone.

The writing was gorgeous and the characters of rural maritime life were spot on.

I will read it again and again. Excellent prose!

Escape Artist said...

Yes, it is definitely on my 'to read' list. I was very interested in your comment that you prefered it to Shiver. I had an immediate sense from a peek that there was an almost extra layar to this one!
Can't wait! : )

Kelley Lynn said...

I hadn't read anything of hers before but I heard from everyone that her writing was amazing. The story sounded great so I bought it.

I must admit, while the writing MOST DEFINITELY didn't disappoint, the story was not what I expected. I thought it would be more about the race itself, but its really not. Its about all the events leading up to the race.

But the beautiful writing got me through the first 100 pages. After that I felt like the story picked up.

What amazed me so much was that the island was like another character. It was SO distinct. So real.

She is a great writer.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I really, really enjoyed the Scorpio Races. What drew me in was how real both the world and the characters become, not to mention I love seeing new takes on old myths.

Definitely a great read!

Traci Kenworth said...

Have to pick this one up.

Kelly Bryson said...

I'm so glad everybody is loving this book. It was one of my favorites last year- and thanks for linking my review up there:)

I need to throw some hints out to my hubby that it would make a great mother's day gift. In a way, the story is about how hard life is without a mother (or father) right?

Your review made me smile, it's so contented:)

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Happy to be of assistance, Mara Rae!

Couldn't have said it better myself, Bethany:)

Linda, when I read SHIVER, it just felt a little...done. I know Ms. Stiefvater's werewolf mythology was quite different than the norm, but then, Stephenie Meyer's werewolf mythology was pretty different, too. I just couldn't get into the rest of the series, but I love, love, love THE SCORPIO RACES.

Very good point, Kelley. I was expecting the race to happen much sooner than it did; turns out, it's the climax of the book. And Ms. Stiefvater said herself that, in the end, THE SCORPIO RACES really wasn't about water horses at all. But I still loved it.

So true, Stephanie. I wanted to take a boat to Thisby and meet Puck and Sean by the end:)

Do pick it up, Traci! Then come back here and tell us what you think (even if you disagree with me).

Kelly, Honey Bear and I don't pick up on each other's hints, so we just tell each other outright:) ("Hey, Honey Bear, you could get me THE SCORPIO RACES for Mother's Day or something, if you want...")

Robin said...

You book recommendations have been spot on for me. Because of you I read Heist Society (and now all of Ally Carter's books), Bruiser, The Survivor's Club (which was an excellent present for my hubs), and Three Rivers Rising. Loved them!

Keturah and Lord Death is one of my all time favorites.

And now this recommendation. The anticipation for reading The Scoprio Races is killing me. Must get my hand on this book ASAP!


Krista Van Dolzer said...

Oh, Robin, this comment made my day. No, really, it did. I've been a little stressed out with "The Writer's Voice," and your comment made me remember why I do all this crazy stuff. To help my fellow readers and writers. To share the things I love.

Good luck getting your hands on a copy of THE SCORPIO RACES! I hope you love it as much as I did:)

Liesl Shurtliff said...

I just finished this last night! I adore her writing, though I must admit, this book took a good 100 pages to get going for me. But well worth the patience!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Liesl, I find it interesting that both you and Kelley mentioned you had a tough time getting into it. I don't remember that at all. I guess I was so interested in the characters that I didn't notice the plot was moving slowly:)

Stacey Trombley said...

I LOVE Penelope. You got me excited for a second, I thought you were saying it was a book! It was one of those movies I watched over and over again when I had the free movie channels on DirectTV (And Harry Potter and the Order of Pheonix.)I also need to get Second Hand Lions. Another one of my favorites!

Sorry. Tangent.

I'll have to read The Scorpio Races. I thought I was going to be just another attempt at a Hunger Games remake. Maybe that will be one I can get my hubby and his father into (I convinced them both to read The Hunger Games, (which ended up being the first book my father in law ever finished!) which they both love. But they're super picky and hardly ever read. I struggle to find good YA books that guys can enjoy)

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Stacey, for some reason, I thought THE SCORPIO RACES was a HUNGER GAMES knock-off, too, when I first heard about it. But it is definitely not. (In fact, it's not even dystopian.) You'll have to let us know what you think of it!