I considered several titles for this post:
November 1st: Today, Someone Will Die
Why I Wish I Lived on the Magical Island of Thisby
I Hate Maggie Stiefvater and Want to Flay Her for Writing Such Stinkin’ Good Fiction
I Love Sean Kendrick
Don’t Drink (or Listen to Audiobooks) and Drive
Wrists Are Hot*
I finally settled on the prosaic title you see above, but truly, there are scads of things to say about this amazing fantasy/historical/romance YA novel called The Scorpio Races, which concerns so much more than just a lethal race—it’s about a brutal island, fragile relationships, aspirations and failure and meaning. I’ve tried to order my thoughts about this book, but it’s one of those special books where it’s just me, the story, and surging emotion. So, as I do whenever my mind whirls, I made some lists.
Why I Love The Scorpio Races:
Image courtesy of goodreads.com
1) Sean Kendrick. Strong, steady, capable. And he has an accent. And he kisses Puck’s wrist. (Like I said, after reading this book, you’ll find wrists insanely attractive.) I admire Stiefvater for creating a lovely, tasteful romance that builds excruciatingly slowly yet engages the reader. Sean Kendrick now sits at the top of my Literary Boyfriends list—and trust me, that’s a very, very exclusive list.
2) Characters. From spirited Puck and her spritely brother Finn to brassy Dory Maud and observant George Holly, Stiefvater creates a well-rounded world of believable people. The island of Thisby itself becomes a character, and of course there are the dangerously exquisite water horses, which can and will kill you.
3) Descriptions. Stiefvater appeals to all five sense with her unassuming but textured descriptions of the Irish-inspired landscape, majestic water horses, sugary November cakes, even simple things like hot chocolate. Plus, her wry sense of humor made me laugh out loud.
Why You Must Listen to the Audiobook:
1) Voice. Rather than read the novel, I checked out the audiobook from the library and listened while I commuted to school. This enriched the experience, in part because I could hear the characters’ voices. Stiefvater alternates between Sean and Puck’s perspectives, so hearing them share their stories felt much more intimate than words on a page. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed Puck as much as I did, since the narrator brought zest and nuance to her dialogue. Plus, both narrators have Irish accents, so frankly I don’t care what they say as long as they keep talking.
2) Pace. I read fast, so I often miss details the first time around. The audiobook forced me to absorb every word (and keep from racing ahead), and I appreciated the descriptions so much more. Plus, it drew out the story experience—I’d find myself driving slower to make it last longer. I kid you not, I looked forward to rush hour because it meant twenty extra minutes with Sean and Puck.
3) Emotion. This is both a pro and a con: hearing the story unfold moment by moment means you feel everything, and if you’re like me, who feels everything deeply anyway, this becomes a bit hazardous. When Puck described Dory Maud, I laughed so hard I swerved onto the shoulder; when Sean kissed Puck’s wrist, I almost drove off the road. And when the Scorpio Races themselves took place… Well, my steering wheel now sports deep finger indentations. (Don’t worry, no one was injured in the reading of this novel. Thank you, Lord.)
Read The Scorpio Races now, immediately, before another wasted moment passes. I promise, you won’t want to leave Thisby. (Or your car if you’re listening to the audiobook.)
Postscript: I realized that I spent over 600 words applauding a book without providing a straight-forward summary. Basically I hate writing summaries when there’s so much more to talk about. But you’re strongly encouraged to check out my friend Jackie’s summary and review, which is much better and more comprehensive than mine. *Jackie also gets credit for the “wrists are hot” line; I almost choked on a nacho chip.