Rating: Worthy + 5 Scoops
Goodreads Summary: 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.
Haunted by a past tragedy, Astrid defiantly refuses to sit idle as her family faces dire financial difficulty and drift further and further apart as a result. Titans is a survivor story. It's not a story of battling the wilds of an unfamiliar terrain, fighting against an oppressive government in a post-apocalyptic land, or navigating the jungles of high school, but it is a story of strength, courage, trust, and beating the odds.
"Let's do this, Padlock. Not to win. Not to place. But to remember this moment as the time we ran with the Titans. Because you are a Titan. And tonight, I am a rider."
I liked that Astrid was strong without coming across as an annoying, know-it-all brat, which is prevalent in YA heroines now-in-days. I loved that the book wasn't romance centered; and in fact, quite pleased to discover the small amount of romance relegated to the secondary characters. I also liked the multi-layering of friendships, the connection Astrid and Magnolia share, and the bond Astrid eventually makes with Padlock. Scott addresses socioeconomic status and differences without harping on either one, while at the same time exposing the reader to the importance of fighting for what matters to you in the face of crushing opposition.
The cover speaks of the intriguing premise: mechanical race horses, a metal hybrid of a real horse and a race car. With short chapters and engaging content, this title will definitely appeal to reluctant readers. At its core, is a foundation of friendship and family. Full of heart, readers will no doubt root for the underdogs, Astrid and Padlock, as I did.
As I read, I couldn't help but think of the movie, Dreamer; specifically when Cale Crane, played by Dakota Fanning, says to her horse, Sonador:
"You are a great champion. When you ran, the ground shook, the sky opened and mere mortals parted. Parted the way to victory, where you'll meet me in the winner's circle, where I'll put a blanket of flowers on your back."
Yes indeed, Padlock you are a champion!
"I remember the way Rags transported him in that jumbo coffin. And how the Titan rose to his feet from his dark prison within seconds of that lock being removed. How he ran to stretch his legs, to breathe the air and feel the soil beneath his hooves. It's like he'd waited a lifetime for that run. Like he was trapped for years without an outlet. And then, suddenly, he was free."
"The horse snorts once, loudly, but keeps his eyes steady on the track." Steady. So eerily steady with his red, apocalyptic eyes and his black-as-death coat. It's like he's waited for this moment for years, gathering dust in a work shed instead of fulfilling his purpose."
*All quotes taken from ARC
**I won a complimentary ARC in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.