The Scorpio Races - Maggie Stiefvater

Day One

Location -- Noisy Coffee Shop where I prove that I CAN be much noisier than the noise.


This is pretty much how it went down in a not so very brief-tastic summary with probable exaggerations and some paraphrased conversations because my memory sucks at exact details and maybe I should have been recording everything, but I didn't.  Anyway, long day aside, this is my best friend and my first attempt at committing to something like a book club.  But we tend to be more or less easy-going about books, so we agreed on simply discussing how we feel about the book thus far with no "high school style" deep analysis.


The session was overall pretty laid back, and as my best friend likes to remain anonymous within the online world (she doesn't even have a social networking account of any kind outside of her GR account that she rarely frequents), I shall refer to her as BFF.





Shows up 15 minutes late and immediately starts talking about how life sucks and our table is in the middle of too much crowd.  Wonders what kind of fattening fancy coffee shop drink to get.



"Yeah, it's really crowded tonight."  Proceeds to talk about book and how she had wanted to read more than our agreed upon ten chapters because she was enjoying it.  "I read all ten chapters in one whole sitting... then I sort of started on the next chapter a little bit..."



"Oh right.  The book."  Plops down onto the chair.  "Um... I'm enjoying it too.  But honestly, I liked Puck's portion of the narration more than the other guy."  Because Puck sounds wittier and livelier and I like wit and sarcasm and liveliness.  And I also like the relationship between Puck and her brothers.


Gives very brief "I can relate" segway with a roll of the eyes and wave of the hand about Puck's relationship with her brothers.  Continues to wonder what type of fancy drink to indulge in.



"I thought of that too!"  Proceeds to flip through book to end of Chapter 3 after Puck's elder brother, Gabe, announced that he's leaving the island... for good.  Puck feels abandoned, little brother Finn is semi-trying to keep the peace.  Puck tries to act nonchalant and brave.  


"I especially made the connection at this part," points to book, "here when Puck goes to her room and says something like, 'Jackass', or whatever.  I thought it sounded like you and your brother."



(Random tangent)

Well, the actual line is, "Selfish bastard," right before Puck sobs into her pillow after putting on a strong front and proclaiming that she's going to participate in the races that could get people killed because they'll need the money if she can win it.  But nonetheless, the sentiments and the feelings are there.  And yes, while I don't relate with Puck too much (she's pluckier and has more determination than I do), I can relate with her situation somewhat.  The difference is that her parents are gone and mine are still here, but between the "selfish bastard" big brother and the strange little brother with disjointed behavior and unpredictable color commentary, I think that's pretty similar in some ways.

(Random tangent end)




Talks about the difference between Sean and Puck and why Puck is more easily related to than Sean.  Sean is too dark and broody -- dark and broody doesn't always work for main male characters.  



Talks about some lines in certain chapters she has highlighted and why.



At some point during the discussion that I can't quite remember, points at a nearby taller table that just got vacated.  With a happy grin: "Window table."



And so the two of us scramble to the new table with our crap in tow as I finally decide that I need to get me one of those fancy coffee shop drinks before we get serious.  Moments later, when I return to the table, we start chatting about the book again, but there is a very distinct agreement between the two of us about certain things:


1)  The book is enjoyable and Puck is a nice, fun girl to follow.


2)  Sean is too broody and we both found his parts of the story too somber and too monotone so far.  We understand that he's broody for a reason (he'd recently lost his father to a water horse "accident" and watched his father die and he's stuck in this endless cycle of the Scorpio Races where everyone wants his opinion), but we believe that broodiness is just his way of being male and dramatic at the same time.  If he were a woman, people would be telling him to build a bridge.  


Also, we determined that Sean seems to have this complex where he seems to see himself on a different level than everyone else around him, in an arrogant, "I know more than you about these water horses" type of way which we think makes him feel superior to everyone else.


And the idea that Sean is drawn to the water the same way that the water horses are drawn to the sea... a little disturbing.


(Random personal tangent): When I first read the description of this book, I had pictured Sean as some gangly, young kid with a big-person ego too big for him to handle.  I was thinking of him as some stubborn child wanting to prove a point by racing in the Scorpio Races against professionals.  And now after reading the book, I realize that my pre-impression of him was quite wrong since he is obviously the Water Horse Yoda on the island.  Go figure.  (Random personal tangent end)


3)  BFF and I are both interested in seeing the first interaction between Sean and Puck with their differing personalities.  Puck lost her parents to water horses during one of the annual races as well in a "tragic accident", but she maintains a rather light view of life as seen here:


Setting them out on the table, three lonely plates where once there would've been five, depresses me, so I busy myself making some mint tea to go with them.  As I arrange and rearrange the teacups by our plates, it occurs to me, too late, that mint tea and apple cake might not go together.


The way in which Puck's mind operates is hard to grasp since these tiny little details also tells so much about how she feels, bringing a possible somber, melancholic moment into a more thoughtful, puzzling moment.  This is also setting aside the fact that the siblings are having apple cake for dinner.


4)  Water horses are super creepy.


5)  Maggie Stiefvater is awesome!



Okay, maybe that last one was all me, but there is no amount of words I can use to describe why I love Maggie's writing.


Moving along, we make other comments about the book.


My BFF seems to like big romantic ideals and gestures, so she points out that she highlighted the moment when Puck first sees Sean as he rides past on his red stallion... and then is known to her as "the rider on the red stallion" (BFF:  "That just sounded so hot!") until she learns his real name not long afterwards.  We both take note that Puck is attracted to Sean first (since he is obviously good looking as a main YA male character) and because he's "kinda hot" as the "rider on the red stallion". In hindsight, I agree that it was quite the description and rather grand; I take note and file the idea away for further blogging.


Surprisingly, despite my being a hopeless romantic, that moment that BFF mentions was completely overlooked by yours truly.  I seemed to have veered more towards the sibling relationship and enjoyed more moments between Puck and Finn:


- Puck and Finn racing in the first chapter.

- Puck and Finn having stilted conversation after Finn is shaken by the encounter with the water horse.

- Finn making hot chocolate in the morning for himself and Puck, but managing to botch it somehow and leaving the smell of burnt something on the stove as this exchange happens:


"You made this?"


Finn looks at me.  "No, Saint Anthony brought it to me in the night.  He was very put out I didn't give it to you right then."




I am shocked, both by the reappearance of Finn's humor and the gift of the hot chocolate.  I see now that the counter is an absolute mess of pots that Finn used to distill a single cup of cocoa, and I'm certain now that the odor hanging on the air is the smell of milk spilt on the hot burner, but it doesn't matter in the face of his intention.  It sort of makes my lower lip not quite sure of itself [...]


And basically the entirety of the whole hot chocolate scene makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, because despite the sarcastic bantering and jibes, you can tell that these are siblings who care about each other a lot.  And it reminds me of my own relationship with my younger brothers.  I'm curious about Puck's relationship with Gabe, pre-"Gabe-is-a-selfish-bastard-who-is-abandoning-us", because I want to see what it was like.



And then we go into another 45 minute segway, detouring back to the sibling relationship as relates to Puck, Gabe and Finn... until we segway completely into the relationship between myself and my brothers.  And then we talk about work and life in general and about how my mother is super human; and some guy nearby shoots me frustrated looks as he puts on his head set because I am getting too loud.  And then I need another scone.  But none of that is really too important, though I have a feeling we'll keep coming back to the sibling relations as relates to myself and my brothers...


By the end of the little mini book club meeting between me and my best friend, we've decided that maybe 10 chapters was a little short and we were unable to grasp completely what's going on in the book as of yet, but that we are extra excited to continue.  Although I have a feeling that the excitement is really reserved for the fact that we are book-clubbing more so than for reading the book itself, despite how enjoyable I find it so far (because while enjoyable, it hasn't quite hooked me yet).



Due to my extremely good fortune, I have a mini-weekend and so we've agreed to try to finish another ten chapters by the next day and meet up again for more discussion.  Maybe this time I'll try harder to record our conversation so that it may be transcribed into blog form a bit better than what I managed this time around.


Although, to be fair, I DID show up late and hadn't had a chance to set up my laptop for note-taking on this session.  And then I just got lazy.


Finally, BFF will be reading this blog and will be allowed to demand editing of said transcript if she so desires.  I'm sure she'll appreciate the liberties I took to spruce up our conversation a little bit with my own perceived version of our amateurish mini book club discussion.  In all honesty, we're not very exciting people, but I try to make it sound like we are if I can.


I wish we could include other, more experienced book-bloggers, but we are also a bit concerned about sounding stupid in front of other people rather than sounding stupid between ourselves.


Until next time... which won't be long.