{Review} TITANS by Victoria Scott

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

I can see their eyes glowing red from my hard-won place outside the fence. Grown men jostle me from both sides, sloshing pints of beer, hollering over one another as they place last minute bets. The moon dips low in the sky, lured by grumbled curses and bare-knuckle fights and cigarettes pinched between dirtied fingertips.

My parents don't know I'm here. I snuck out my bedroom window with Magnolia an hour before midnight, an hour before the race would begin. Last year, I watched the machines run on a local sports channel—one of the few my family could afford. The Gambini brothers should have been thrilled. The first year and already they had cameramen and a spot in homes across Detroit.

(Page 3, US Hardcover Edition)

     “Life isn't always a fairy tale. Life is rarely a fairy tale. Sometimes, the real point is pursing a worthwile goal, even if you fall short in the end."

~Astrid, TITANS

So let me preface this by explaining that I have a borderline obsessive adoration for horses. Take me anywhere near one and I turn into an enthusiastic child, all I wanna do is kiss the animal's nose and coo over how gorgeous it is. So when I heard about TITANS by Victoria Scott, the imagery of mechanical horses on a racetrack was an immediate sell. That intriguing bit alone was enough to lure me in, but I'll tell you that this story has so much more to offer. TITANS is set in a near future version of Detroit, where the game of racing has grown to accommodate fantastic creatures called Titans. They are half car, half horse, lifelike yet made of gleaming steel. Astrid, our main character, has a mixture of fascination and hatred for them. They are awe-inspiring, but her father's habit of gambling on them has put her family in jeopardy, and it's easy to filter her anger and fear onto the mechanical creatures. All of that changes when Astrid gets a chance to enter the races on an early model Titan. If she wins she'll secure the financial safety of her family, and the stable presence of her best friend, Magnolia.

Now if you're in the mood for a well done side of romance in your fantasy/adventure, I'll tell you that you won't find any here. Don't get me wrong there is love in this book, but it focuses more on the familial and friendship aspects, on the way a girl in a position of desperate fear and longing can form a genuine bond with a horse made of machinery and computer programming. It hit me right in the feels, the whole book, from start to finish. This is Astrid's story, this about her journey to save her family from financial ruin and the emotional scars that consequently blossom to put distance between them. Her successive pushes forward are a mixture of luck—moments that make the story feel realistic and hinged on chance—and her gift of seeing patterns, her mathematical intelligence—which makes her an intriguing character and not the typical underdog that comes out of the starting gate without an ace up her sleeve. The way her mind narrates while she's racing is so raw, fast flying thoughts, like she's seeing numbers on top of everything around her. Scott has a gift with imagery, and the way she describes the tracks and practically solders your mind to Astrid's has you feeling every moment and emotion with extreme intensity.

The thing I think I love the most about this book, is that while it's a Fantasy, Scott keeps it down to earth, she makes you feel like some version of this world is something you could see some day in the future. Mechanical beasts with the potential for feeling aside, at it's core TITANS is story about the people that make us, the ones that bring out the best in ourselves and see us through the bad times. Magnolia, Astrid's best friend, may not feel like she has an important place in the plot, but it's my opinion that she is paramount. She's a piece of familiar stability as Astrid moves into a world that is overwhelming and competitive and unfamiliar. Honestly I don't think Astrid would have ever entered into the plot itself if not for the presence of a best friend to support her. And her family unit grows to include her manager, her trainer, unexpected puzzle pieces that make Astrid feel strong, less alone in the world. It's a nice heartwarming undertone that somehow perfectly balances out the tension of races with dangerous jams and the fear you  have for what might happen to Astrid and those she loves if she doesn't win.

If you're in the mood for a piece of urban fantasy with beautifully visual narration and a main character who easily grows to feel like a sister or a piece of your own heart, then TITANS by Victoria Scott should find its way into your hands as soon as possible.


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG (Romance is not a key component of this story. Aside from a minor stunt flirtation for the cameras there isn't much about it in the plot)
Language: PG ( No cursing )
Violence: PG13 (I'll keep this at 13 to be safe, just because their are parts of the races that get violent, though there's not much in the way of gore or death. But the violent tension is very very palpable.)
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

The thing that struck me first about this cover is that it urges you to turn the book on its side in order to properly design it.  I'm sure they could have altered it to orient from top to bottom but I don't think it would have had the same emphasis. This angle let's you have a really good view of the Titans, mechanical red eyes standing out. The way the mechanisms show up inside the title itself is a show that these mechanical characters are going to be heavily present in the book.
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Victoria Scott
Release Date: February 23rd, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic
Received: Purchased

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.