The Scorpio Races does not have the same flow as other Stiefvater books. There is a weight here that holds you in place more than it drives you forward. Which is interesting considering that this is a book about a race. The whole point is moving forward, right? But its central characters are the kind that have deep deep roots, and dig their heels in firm. Puck Connolly wants to keep her home; Sean Kendrick only knows at first that wants to stay with his wicked water horses, until he finally sees that he wants one horse in particular, and one girl - which would be Puck. They want to stay in place, but its the race that coaxes them forward.
Sean Kendrick is the kind of character that you know Maggie Stiefvater loves to write, and is so hard not to love to read. He's one part fiery strength and fortitude, the other part cold discipline. One foot on land, the other foot in the sea. He walks in the room and inanimate objects get out of his way. If this book had been a touch more magical, there probably would have been a revelation that he is in fact part fae. And while Sean is defined by what he is, what he's made himself into, Puck Connolly is defined by what she wants to become. Sean is definitely the more interesting character, and I like the way Maggie differentiates their voices between chapters. Not that I disliked Puck at all, without her the story would have likely been too detached. But her character is less distinct at the start of things, and while her chapters are more frequent, I found myself craving Sean's.
I also love George Holly, whose role is basically to be Sean Kendrick's personal cheerleader, because hell sometimes you need that. When he first showed up, I was pretty convinced that he was flirting with Sean. I realized after a while though that George Holly would probably flirt with a brick wall if he liked it enough. I'm not sure if his sensuality is more tied to his wealth or his American-ness. But his presence is also tied to the fact that I think Stiefvater really likes OT3s, and as much as she enjoys writing romances she also really likes writing friendships between men.
And that brings me to the romance, which is what I imagine a lot of real young romances are like. Sudden, powerful and without much in the way of reason. I think what draws Sean and Puck together is their admiration for each other, or at least that's my best guess, because ultimately this stuff is animal. They want the same things in the same way, and they're good enough people for it to not get in the way of what they want for each other. When they both realize that they both need to win the race in order to have what they want most in the world, but obviously can't both win, it never causes any friction between them. It just is, the same way they both just are.
Which might be why my reading of this was slow, and yet I can't knock this story for being the way it is. I wouldn't want any arbitrary squabbles between Sean and Puck, the danger of the race was enough, and the race completely lives up to the anticipation, it is riveting. Stiefvater's prose is clever and lyrical as ever, and her need for speed gets your heart thumping. I was going to say earlier that Puck does more growing in this story, but Sean has an extraordinary moment as well. I think Puck's growth comes in realizing what she's capable of, and Sean's comes in realizing what others are capable of doing for him. This book is not whimsical, it is so grounded its the earth. Or at the very least, its sand on the beach.