Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: October 18th, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Mythology(???)
Challenge(s): 2012 Award Winning Reads
This book was dramatically different from what I thought it would be. All I knew was man-eating water horses. This led me to expect a fast paced, action packed book. I was met with the complete opposite. The plot was very, very slow; the whole book spent describing the events leading up to the Races. It was fascinating, but almost painfully slow, like walking through mud (which I recall there being several passages describing).
The setting was extremely confusing to me. Initially, I thought the story took place in a fantasy world, but then came cars and American tourists. But the island where the story takes place is completely fictional, and surrounded by mythological sea creatures. And there are no more than a small handful of hints as to what point in time the story takes place. It seemed to me that it took place sometime in the past, but it easily could've taken place in the distant future. I can appreciate that the author was trying to leave the reader room for forming their own thoughts, but some of us didn't appreciate the vagueness.
One element which I definitely did enjoy was the character development. They were very clearly the largest focus of the novel. The reader got to know them each on a personal level, understanding their strengths and weaknesses. Puck was very different, but in a good way. She would irritate me at times, but I loved her nevertheless. Her character arc was very clear, while others were more subtle. In many ways she started out very childlike, and had to grow up very quickly over the course of the story.
Before going into this I couldn't understand why it had won the Printz Honor, but afterwards it was so clear. It has such strong themes of love, courage, equality, and trust. It held some complex ideas, and delivered them with grace and clarity. While I could go on and on talking about all the goods and not-so-goods of the book, I think the best thing to do is try it out for yourself, and form your own opinions.
Honestly, I really don’t like the cover, though it fits the tone of the book very well. I’m just not a fan of brick red or horse silhouettes, but I think for what it is, it’s wonderful. It’s clean and professional, and matches the story inside, and that’s what counts.
These are probably the strangest recommendations you’ve ever gotten. I just can’t think of anything that comes close.
Moderate Violence: (Multiple people are injured or killed by these horses, and the descriptions are still running through my mind (they’re not pleasant). As far as sexual content, very, very mild!)