Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 320 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher For Review
From Victoria Scott, author of FIRE & FLOOD, comes a thrilling story of impossible odds.
Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch.
She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them.
But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about.
Prior to reading this book I only had two experiences with horse-related books: Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally and The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Obviously, I had high hopes for this one and I am very happy it delivered. It was a truly emotional roller-coaster that I blasted through in a single sitting.
Not going to lie, the start of this book is a little slow. It took me a while to get into it, but after a few chapters I was hooked. Scott gives us a main character that is easy to get behind and a best friend that any girl would kill for. This amazing female friendship is reason enough to read the book because it is so well done and something that isn't always found in YA lit these days. But, wow, do I want a Magnolia for myself.
Similarly, Scott's world is equally as interesting. Astrid and her family are very poor. They are facing getting kicked out of their house, college is not even an option and completing high school is a major question mark when it comes to the future of her and her sisters. I think this is a way of living that is not always found in literature these days despite it being very, very real. Gambling has torn this family apart, causing her father to wallow in his misery about not being able to provide for his family while her mother sneaks out late at night to tend to her neighbor's garden as a way to control some aspect of her life. Seriously though, this gardening thing had me smiling so hard. While the Sullivan's are incredibly dysfunctional, they come together as a family unit when it is most necessary and such a thing is always refreshing in YA lit. I feel like ridiculously strong female friendships and functioning families are hard to find together, let alone apart, so that in and of itself makes this book a true gem.
But the best part of this world is the Titans. They are so dang creative! The fantastical elements of these gorgeous sounding beasts (I imagine them as Ferrari's in mechanical horse form) are freaking awesome! And the relationship that Astrid forms with her Titan, name redacted for you to discover it yourself, is so moving. Yay for positive relationships and unbreakable friendships between human and animal. It is a beautiful thing.
The ending of this book was solid. It'll bring smiles to readers faces as the tears simultaneously fall. I am happy and unhappy (I mean, I cried but I still smiled?) but I understand why Scott chose to end this book where she did. I just found myself wanting a little more and for her to go a step or two further. I also understand why it is a standalone, but I would happily delve back into this creative world again.
Perfect for readers looking for a fantastical adventure with an amazing cast of characters, beautiful friendships, and a story that is not dominated by romance, I would recommend picking up this single sitting read whenever you need a mind-blowingly intense pick-me-up that will get your heart racing. That pretty much sums up every book Scott writes, though.
FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review.