Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Most Ambivalent Read of 2012: The Scorpio Races

As the year races to its end, it's time for me to look back on things that have been good, bad, and indifferent. My choices for this post, about a book I was horribly ambivalent over, were between the highly acclaimed The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, and the graphic novel edition of Fahrenheit 451 by the late great Ray Bradbury.  Throughout the former, I could not find myself going "wow" as so many others did.  With the latter, it wasn't until I started typing up a review that I realized how much I was "meh" over it.

I think I'll save the post about the graphic novel for another day this week, and go for the more controversial one.  It fits the bill better, plus it may be good for my blog's traffic and comments.

Typical reader: Teen girls, fans of Ms. Stiefvater's novels
Source: Scholastic

Synopsis: Every fall, a Gaelic island is infested with mythical sea horses unlike any others.  Brave men try to ride and race them in November, in the Scorpio Races, for great wealth or a horrible death.  In an attempt to save the remnants of her already-shattered family, a girl named Puck enters the races as the first female to ever do so.  She draws the interest of a returning champion, a young man named Sean.

My Goodreads rating: Unrated, for I am truly ambivalent.

What did I like about this book?  The mythos the author created was great.  The capaill uisce, the malevolent sea horses, are so unique.  Yes, they are based on Celtic water horses such as the kelpies, but spiced up a bit.  Kelpies and their kin also don't show up often in teen literature, so this is a nice departure from the typical paranormal fare of cuddly werewolves, sparkly vampires, and zombies lurching everywhere.

I've also got a soft spot for horse racing.  I'm a military brat, and one of my father's assignments put us in Kentucky for a few years.  I took a shine to Churchill Downs in Louisville, and to this day still enjoy watching the Kentucky Derby every May.  The plot of the book was intriguing.

Now, if only the race featured more prominently in the book.  The race itself occurs in the last 10% of the book.  While there's something to be said about "the journey, not the destination," there's also a need for decent pacing.

My biggest "ho hum" issue with the book is the people.  I was so utterly ambivalent about Puck, and could rather care less about Sean.  Did I care who won the race?  Not really.  And Puck rubbed me the wrong way sometimes.  For instance, take this thought of hers.  "No one notices what the third sister, Annie, looks like, because she's blind."  I've got a note in my progress on Goodreads that says I actually went "Huh?" regarding that line.  Maybe it's just a bit of culture shock; while I've worked with an amazing blind woman, Puck probably has a bit of that old Celtic mindset that a physical deformity is a sign of a mental/spiritual deformity, and therefore the blind woman is beneath her.  But still.

If you've read it, what did you think of the book?  Did you like it?  Many people seemed to.  Or is this review something that makes you say, "Whew, I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way"?


  1. Ugh, it was definitely a "Whew, I'm glad I'm not the only one."

    I just didn't see what all the hype was about. Sure, parts of it were original, but the characters just didn't draw me in, you know?

    Here's my review of the same:

    1. Thank you! I'll be sure to check out your review. :)