Sunday, 22 January 2012

“The Scorpio Races” by Maggie Stiefvater

This book blew me away.
I’m not easily impressed and holding my attention is a very difficult job indeed. If the book I’m reading is not up to the task, I find my mind wondering off – “Did I unload the dishwasher this morning?” or “This dress I saw in Topshop today was really pretty, I must go back and buy it.” If by page 50 this wondering off hasn’t stopped, the book goes back to the library.
That’s why “perfect prose” novels filled with lengthy descriptions and one’s ramblings thoughts, sit on my bookshelves until it’s time for spring cleaning and they are off to the garage. Which is just one step away from the charity shop.
“The Scorpio Races” doesn’t have much happening in terms of action. The whole book is a buildup towards the actual Scorpio Race where the main characters’ faith is to be decided. And since it’s just a one part book and Ms. Stiefvater has said she’d never write a sequel, the race can go either way. Everybody could die. I didn’t know what was going to happen up until I read it. That was the main selling point for me. Reading towards the unknown. Hoping for a happy ending but not being sure if I’m going to get one. Devouring every single word in my quest to find a lead on a possible ending.
I’m not going to tell you how it ends because I don’t want to spoil it for you. But even if it’s not how you’d have imagined it should end, rest assured that the time you have invested in reading this book would not have been in vain. It’s touching on a subject I’ve never before read about – the great water horses or capaill uisce as they are originally called. Giant, deadly, carnivorous horses with square pupils, which live in the ocean and come out to the shore to search for prey.
The mood throughout the novel is very bleak – poor people, bad weather, dark ocean with monsters in it, people competing in a life or dead race to help themselves to a better future. The whole time I associated the book with the color black. Not only for the reasons stated above (“The Hunger Games” had poor people, wars, death and desperation throughout the series and I never associated them with black), but also because I felt that black was peeking out of everywhere – the ocean, the stillness of the night, the storms, the autumn weather, Puck’s desperate actions to keep her elder brother from leaving, even Sean’s blue-black jacket. And yet, I wouldn’t say that this is a sad book. It’s full of hope.
I could write a lot more about “The Scorpio Races”. I could tell you that it’s a must read. That it’s one of those rare books you’ll never forget. That I will certainly come back to it and read it with immense pleasure even though I know how it ends. But I won’t.
I’m just going to tell you that it blew me away. And that if you give it a chance, it will do the same for you.

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