"Tell me what it's like. The Race."
"What it's like is a battle. A mess of horses and men and blood."
Too bad that's not actually what the book is about, at least not 95% of it.
Before reading this book I didn't understand why those I follow gave this book low ratings when it has such a good premise. How can anyone, especially an author that is respected in this genre, ruin it? Surely people were being extra harsh. I just didn't get it.
Now I do.
You can totally fuck up a fantastic idea by not actually bringing it into the book until the very last few pages of it. Which is what MS did. You thought this would be an exciting read? HA. Joke's on you, readers.
This is the story of a girl who decides to join a deadly race of horses with rabbies for a crap reason (which becomes a slightly more okay reason by mere coincidence once she had already joined) and then proceeds to WASTE her time away before the races, moping, going around describing streets, rooms and clothing and the incredibly dull island she lives in, wondering about other people's lives, wondering about Sean Kendrik, november cakes, houses and farms...oh, and being angry at her brother.
You thought you'd see some exciting moments as she *prepares* for the races. HA, WHO NEEDS PREPARING WHEN YOU'RE A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE WITH A FIERY PERSONALITY.
HARD WORK IS FOR LOSERS.
Okay, deep breaths.
This book promises so much and delivers so little, if at all.
I don't understand the high ratings from other readers, I truly don't. The writing is nothing special, the characters are bland and uninteresting, the plot moves painfully, oh God, excruciatingly slow, and the Scorpio races don't even happen until the last couple of chapters of the book (which, on its own, is not a bad thing, except that the races took a backseat to other irrelevant scenes and minor plots for 90% of the book, that's insane), and the romance is absurd, ABSURD. There's no chemistry between *Puck* (btw, shit nickname that she says she doesn't care for but then insists other people call her that) and Sean, there's nothing there but the author forcing them to have something when she didn't bother to build anything solid for these two characters to base their "relationship" on. Listen, I usually don't mind insta-love, a lot of YA has it and I've made my peace with it because it can be good, even great if handled properly. But Puck and Sean don't even have that insta-love spark other book couples do, they meet, they seem indifferent to each other, they speak a couple of times (not even profound talks, at that) and then they're kissing and Sean is risking Corr and his future for this girl who didn't even bother to actually train before the races?
This book was a HUGE let down. It felt like a waste of time and I kept hoping it would get better because I had the same feel of boredom and nothing happening when I was reading "The Raven Boys" but then it picked up and things got so good I forgot about the painfully slow first couple of chapters. Sadly, nothing of the sort happened in the Scorpio Races, it just got worse, picked up the pace a lil bit at the end and then it was over and I was furious.
The ending, which was kind of okay (and the sole reason I added a star to my original rating) was cut off abruptly, as if the author couldn't be bothered to give you an interesting moment for all your effort of sticking with this mess of a plotless story.
Now, I know it makes sense that the races would take place toward the end of the book as it is what the whole story is supposedly building up to, the problem is... that wasn't really the case? You can't say there was any build up as Puck didn't even bother to actually get ready for the races.
We spend over 300 hundred pages of the book reading about Puck doing everything BUT prepare, if she even TRIED training a couple of times, that's a couple of times too many. Instead, we have to read 300+ pages of Puck complaining about her brother's imminent departure, how poor and hungry she is, having random/irrelevant flashbacks, and describing her surroundings in painful detail even if NOTHING was happening. Wait, but she was watching other people actually train, which the author makes a point of mentioning is just as important, probably because she was too lazy to actually write an action scene.
Puck's negligence towards the races was infuriating. Then a day or two before the races, and ONLY through Sean's advise, is she like "Oh, yeah, I should probably train on the beach and get used to the other horses around me" .... TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE, moron... and it was just that, because conviniently (God forbid we get some exciting moments before the actual races) something happens and she's robbed of that last training day. UGH.
Maybe my anger is too fresh for me to be writing this review but I just know if I leave it for another time I won't bother at all, because part of me thinks this book doesn't even deserve the effort.
I'll just list off the problems I had with this book.
1- Puck Connolly and how different and special she thought she was with her nickname, and her abusing that damn trope that makes a girl in tune with what boys think just because she grew up with brothers *rolls eyes*, her crap initial reason to join the races (and btw, why did she want her brother to stay longer if they talked a grand total of two times before the races anyway, what was the damn point?) and the fact that she didn't bother to prepare for them and still won . Screw that so much. Also, what was with that ominous first bit of the book when she makes a big deal about being a Connolly. Her family was no more special than any other on that island so why the big speech about Connolly's coming first and how they were different. Oh right, Special Snowflake syndrome, I almost forgot.
"I'd always thought I was above being fascinated by anyone but myself"
Puck in a nutshell.
2. Gabe Connolly and his weak reason for wanting to leave, and just being a crap brother and excuse for the MC to do something stupid.
3. Finn is just there to fill up space. Actually, several characters are there for the sake of being there and probably just helping the author fill the book with more about nothing. Perhaps his sole purpose was doing that one thing at the end of the book that made him slightly relevant. I liked him but I don't see why he was absolutely needed.
4. Puck is the only girl her age we ever see around. Every other woman is older. What's up with that? Maybe she should've been given another sister if we absolutely had to have the extra characters, right? Or maybe a best friend. Oh but that would make her too normal and girly. Who needs more girl characters standing up for themselves and changing the rules when Puck is more than enough for the entire island? My bad.
5. The races. The races make no damn sense, they're just there for the sake of of deadly entertainment, which is what any dull island needs, and probably for bringing tourism and money to the dull people of the dull island (which the characters address and try to make the races sound like they're so much more than that, yet the story doesn't really provide anything substantial to think otherwise). The rules around the horses and the whole spitting deal and drawing lines on the sand seemed more like the author dumping random ideas that had no real reason behind them. They were weak, uninteresting and ridiculous (especially the spitting bit).
6. The romance. Or rather the fact that there was actually none and they didn't really interact until halfway through the book, spoke a couple of times, had a couple of dull moments together and then suddenly, because fuck logic, they will do anything for each other and Sean would RISK his beloved horse so that the idiot girl would have a chance in the races.
7. The ending. The fact that a lot of those people put time and effort into taming their horses, actually preparing and risking their lives, just so Puck could win on the author's whim. If anything, at least Sean should have won. But who cares about hard work and consistency when you're the main character and a GIRL against stupid men who treat you as an inferior. Winning through sheer dumb luck and fiery righteousness will show them.
I don't recommend this book to anyone. Not unless you have the patience of a saint, and don't mind only a few pages of action.