Remember when I challenged myself to read all the Printz Award winners this year? Well, I’ve been getting off to. . .let’s just call it a less-than-running start. I am yet to read any winners, but I now have read a Printz Honor book! So let’s dive in and see what’s going on here.
The Scorpio Races is a blend of far-away fantasy and next-door neighbor familiarity. It could just as easily be read from a haves versus have-nots perspective as a beauty of the simple life perspective (which, one might argue, are sort of the same — but that’s for another place and time), or a gender roles perspective. It’s a unique book, and one I had heard a lot of good things about. When the Printz committee said good things as well, I knew I’d have to take a look.
The story is told from a dual-narrator perspective. Honestly, this is a writing style that’s picking up speed that I kind of wish would go back where it came from sometimes (notable exception: As I Lay Dying). In the world of YA lit, I think this puts too much impetus up front on the relationship between these characters. Our girl, Puck, is more of the protagonist than is our boy, Sean, but we know something important is going to happen with them, as they both narrate the story. Is it too much to ask for Puck to tell the story and for Sean to be there, in his place, until their stories properly intersect?
I’m getting way ahead of myself. Perhaps some plot would help.
Puck is a poor girl whose parents were killed by a capaill uisce. What are these? These are the water horses that come out of the sea, and once a year, on the first of November, are raced. These are no ordinary horses. They are from the sea and long to return to the sea. They are massive beasts, and can and will kill anything in their path. These races, the Scorpio Races, are deadly. They are also, in many ways, the lifeblood of the island on which our story takes place.
Puck is going to enter the races. Puck does not have a capaill uisce. She’s also a girl in a tradition-steeped male-dominated race.
Sean is the winner of the past several Races. His father was killed by a capaill uisce. He works for the only rich man on the island, taking care of his horses — both the water horses and normal horses.
It’s tough to talk too much more about the plot without going on for far too long or giving too much away. But suffice it to say, things are not easy for Puck, nor are they easy for Sean. And they learn to help each other out because of this.
I wonder if the fact that I’d need to go on for a while to explain the whole plot portrays part of my difficulty getting into this book at first. There’s so much we need to know about the characters, the world in which they live, and their motivations, that I felt I had to be about 150 pages in before I could really immerse myself in the story. Looking back on my status updates from Goodreads, it was page 220 that I felt I was really into it. That’s a long time. Not every reader is going to hang on that long. For me, it was worth it, but I wonder if I could have been hooked earlier.
I really did enjoy the story. Some people don’t like the ending; I thought it was really good. You’ll just have to read it and let me know what you think 😉
I recommend this book to people who like their fantasies tame or their realistic fiction a little far-fetched. I think girls would probably enjoy this more than boys, and I’d put it at ages 12 and up. Horse lovers may enjoy this more than others, so I would say they should give this a shot. I think they’d understand some of the relationship between human and animal a lot more than most would.