Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publication date: October 18, 2011
AR levels: Interest level - 9-12th grades, Book level: 5.5, Points: 17
Goodreads link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10626594-the-scorpio-races
In a nutshell: Every November, the courageous riders on the island of Thisby face off in The Scorpio Races, a dangerous race in which they must attempt to tame and race the wild and bloodthirsty capaill uisce. These beautiful but deadly water horses emerge from the surf, and if a lucky rider can find one to lead him to victory, there's fame and fortune and glory to be had, but death could also be a raging hoofprint away.
Both Sean Kendrick and Puck Connolly feel the pull of the Races. Repeat champion and orphan Sean is tired of living under the bondage of his despicable employer, so he's laying everything he has on the line in order to start a new and independent life for himself. Puck Connolly, also an orphan, has no choice but to enter the Races; she must win in order to keep her family together, but the islanders won't be kind to the only girl to ever enter the Races. In a deadly race where only one can win and anyone can die, both Sean and Puck find themselves with equally vital motives for victory and a luring camaraderie that's as strong as the pull of the tides.
I'd recommend it for grades: 9 to 12 (It gets a bit bloody at times.)
I'd recommend it to: Hunger Games fans and horse lovers
What I liked most about this book: Simply put: the language is gorgeous. Stiefvater definitely has a way with words and imagery. I felt completely transported to this island, and even though the beginning is a bit slow plot-wise, I was so pulled in by the descriptions and the characters, that I couldn't stop. The race scene had me on the edge of my seat, and I think I may have held my breath a few times. The book is an alluring blend of violence, romance, courage, hope, suspense, action, and myth. This would make a breathtaking movie as well.
Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): Any scene where Sean is working to tame the capaill uisce is utterly magical. He's a water horse whisperer of immense talent, and it's incredible to watch him work with those beautiful and terrifying creatures. The character development of the water horses is amazing in and of itself too.