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Titans Hardcover – February 23, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Seventeen-year-old Astrid Sullivan lives in Detroit with her family. Her grandfather lost their home in Wisconsin, and now her father is close to losing their home in Warren County. Betting on mechanical horses called "Titans" during the summer racing circuit is the vice that cripples families, including her own and her best friend's. Unemployed factory workers struggle, and betting seems to be their only way to survive. Astrid hates the racing circuit, but she can't help but be fascinated by the Titans. After a second chance encounter with an old man, Astrid is given the opportunity to race a Titan in the summer circuit and try to win the grand prize, something that would save her family from homelessness. This is a fun, fast-paced read. Astrid is a strong character anyone can identify with: she's headstrong and has trouble trusting those around her. But she has a can-do attitude that stems from her struggle to keep her family from falling apart. The races are very lively and action-packed. Perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races (Scholastic, 2011) and Suzanne Collins's "The Hunger Games." VERDICT A fun addition to any library.—Faythe Arredondo, Tulare County Library, CA
*"Mind-blowingly intense." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Scott injects humor and heart for a can't-miss read. Where can I sign up for a Pandora?" -- Kiersten White, author of the New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy
"Scott holds her own in attitude and taut action, and Tella's voice is feminine, smart, and sassy. Importantly, although male-female chemistry is definitely present, the emotional drive of the novel doesn't rely on romance. Family, camaraderie, and Tella's bond with her furry Pandora companion matter just as much in getting her through the first part of her life-and-death race." -- Publishers Weekly
"Non-stop action and thrilling adventure will keep readers turning the pages... Scott captures the essence of what it means to sacrifice one's self for a loved one." -- Voice of Youth Advocates
"Tella is an especially strong and likable character, which makes this gripping adventure all the more enjoyable." -- Booklist
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Top Customer Reviews
Titans by Victoria Scott
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
I must say, Victoria Scott writes books for me. I don't think I've been disappointed yet, and this is my sixth book I've read by her. There is something very refreshing about her writing style, and I'm pretty sure it accurately reflects her as a person. I adore the voice of Scott's characters, and the tone of all her books - humorous and heartwarming.
Astrid has always been fascinated with the Titans, but she knows that the closest she'll ever get to them is on the other side of the fence of the track, watching. Those who are rich can afford a Titan, as well as the fees to enter the Titan Races. But this year, the fifth year of the races, Astrid is offered the chance to race a first edition prototype of a Titan. Astrid needs the two-million-dollar prize money to help her family keep their home, as well as to help her best friend Magnolia's family. Can Astrid go the distance with the Titan? Or will she risk herself - her life - in the process?
The beginning of the story, before Astrid gets the opportunity with the Titan, was a bit slow. The author does an excellent job of setting the scene, the tone of the story, but I wanted the pace to move a little. When Astrid meets Rags, the older man with the old Titan, the story starts to pick up.
It's not long before Astrid is training on the Titan (nicknamed "Padlock"), and running in the preliminary and qualifying races. She needs to secure a sponsor, and she does, in the form of Lottie, who apparently knows Rags (and Barney, who is friends with Rags). This book goes through race after race, and each race gets more challenging and daunting and risky.
There are so many characters in this book, and I really liked nearly all of them. Astrid is bold and temperamental and stubborn. Magnolia, Astrid's best friend, is creative and fun. Rags, Astrid's manager, is grouchy and stubborn too. Barney, friend of Rags and former engineer of Titans, is good-humored and kind. Lottie, the sponsor, is honest and a paragon of class. Hart Riley II, one of the jockeys and competitors of Astrid, is hilarious and charming and wicked.
I adore Astrid and Magnolia's relationship! They are best friends, and this never wavers throughout the story. Magnolia and her family is just as badly off as Astrid's - Magnolia's father was also laid off, and they are close to losing their home. Yet Magnolia is determined to support Astrid while Astrid is training and racing. And Astrid is determined to win the races not only to get the money to help her own family, but also Magnolia's. This book has such a strong female friendship, which I really liked!
Speaking of relationships - there is little to no romance in this book. At least, not for Astrid. There are other characters that find some romance, but unfortunately, our main character is not one of them. You could take this as a positive aspect or a negative one! It'll appear as both, in my review. I like that Astrid stood on her own, in this story. But I also wouldn't have minded some romance.
I adored Padlock! And the Titans aspect in general. I personally haven't read anything with this concept before (I've seen some people compare this idea to The Scorpio Races? I've not read the book, so I wouldn't know). The author does an excellent job with the world-building, setting the scene, providing sufficient information about the mechanics of the steel horses. Padlock specifically is a wonderful fixture in the story.
I won't say more on the plot because this book is a standalone, and wraps up neatly, as a standalone might. I thought the ending was satisfying, like I said, wraps up neatly. I enjoyed the fast pace of the story, the races, the lovely characters, and the strong female friendship. As well as large secrets and intriguing history!
What I Did Not Like:
I already said this but I was kind of sad that there was no romance centering around Astrid! I mean, I think it's great that a story can stand without having romance; not every female character needs to have a man next to her (or whatever, so on). BUT, I thought for sure that the author was going to go in a certain direction, with Astrid and a secondary character. But she didn't, and I was honestly very disappointed. I think, maybe if this hadn't been insinuated at all, I wouldn't have been bothered by the "no romance" aspect. It's totally okay not to have romance in a book! But not okay if you imply it between two characters and then that doesn't actually happen.
Would I Recommend It:
I personally like all of Scott's books, and I think this one is probably among my favorites of hers, if not my favorite. I love that it is a standalone! No merciless ending or horrible waiting for the next book. The story stands on its own and was worth the read - especially in terms of the female friendship! I loved the amount of girl power in this book. I don't necessarily think this story is a must-read, but it won't disappoint!
3.5 stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. I love a story about a girl who overcomes all kind of odds and circumstances in order to walk among those who consider themselves her betters! I also love a story that keeps me guessing until the very end. Lovely work by the author!
Okay so I really enjoyed this one. I thought it was a good mix of action and familial relationships and there was no unnecessary romance which was a huge plus for me. BUT I couldn't help but compare it to The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater and because of that it, it was lacking something for me.
I liked Astrid and thought she was really strong and brave for doing what she did to keep her family together, especially her found family. I also really liked Magnolia because she stood by Astrid through thick and thin even when she was having problems of her own. And I liked their friendship: they bounced ideas off of one another, supported one another, and while they both had their own issues, they also helped the other in their time of need. Their relationship is the #1 reason I enjoyed this book. I love books that have positive female friendships and this is definitely one of them.
I also liked the secondary characters and getting to know the management team. They were so much more than just cardboard characters and they all had their own wants and desires. I really liked Rags and thought he played such an important role in Astrid's life.
I did think the introduction was a little bit sloppy and really just a way for Rags and Astrid to meet. But it felt forced and I was not really fond of how he was introduced and brought into Astrid's life. It felt too convenient for me to be really convinced. I also thought the races themselves were a bit lacking. As much as I was on the edge of my seat during them, it felt really repetitive and obvious what was going to happen because of how much book was left. It was like those episodes of Law & Order where they "find" the killer after 20 minutes and you're like "nope there is too much time left" if you know what I mean.
The whole idea of mechanical racing horses was cool though. I liked this and thought it was really well done. I liked that there were different models and how they worked. I thought this was clever and something that kept me really interested in the concept of the novel itself. But the horses themselves were awkward and difficult for me to picture. And the actual race tracks that weren't typical and had the jams were really hard for me to picture as well. I think they were described well enough but I feel like there was a missing piece for me to be really brought into Astrid's perspective and see what she was seeing.
But I didn't get a huge emotional connection to any of the characters or the horse, Padlock. I found myself not really caring if Astrid won or lost because she was a bit of a survivor and would probably have been okay if she had to move. I also thought Astrid's guilt was ... weird and like she placed a lot of weight on her shoulders for no reason. I feel like it would have been one thing if she was the only one there and had left her grandpa with no one but there were three other people at the house with him so I didn't understand her guilt at all.
Overall, this is a good novel. It has a lot of action and horse races and is interesting enough. But if you are looking for horse racing with a twist, I would pick up The Scorpio Races instead.
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