TITANS by Victoria Scott
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
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.
First off...that cover! I'm loving the electric blue and black. And let me start off by saying that Titans would be a perfect Scholastic Book Fair book. You remember the days when your Scholastic book order forms came home with you from school, right? You milled through the selection hoping one book spoke to you and you begged your parents to let you get it. You promised you'd read it, unlike some of the others you'd ordered and ended up collecting dust or were sold in a garage sale. This is the book you want to read, love, share with your friends, and tell them to get their own copy because it is a keeper. Honestly.
Titans isn't just about racing robotic horses. There are many situations readers will relate to and that's a huge part of why I love this book. Astrid (the protagonist) is a relateable character. She's from a blue-collar middle class family trying to make it one pay check at a time, that is until her father looses his job. Gambling addictions have altered these characters lives and the way they view the world and the people around them. She has her best friend Magnolia, who, despite her families financial issues, finds an outlet to help her family with her creative talents. She's bubbly, and maybe a little outspoken, but she has drive and proves to be a great friend to Astrid.
Astrid resents the situation her father's gambling put her and her family into. Her older sister is in a relationship with a guy who is a controlling jerk. Astrids world is collapsing around her and her family seems to be falling apart at the seams. It isn't until an opportunity presents itself that Astrid has hope to change her families future.
Astrid is so likeable. She has a heart, she holds the weight of everyone's burdens on her shoulders, she's determined to find a way to a better life for her, and her family. Rags and his friend Barney offer her an opportunity of a lifetime: to ride a Titan. And since Magnolia and Astrid's fathers are out of work and the pressures of eviction lay at the forefront of their minds, she agrees to train and ride the Titan. In order for her to enter the races, Astrid needs financial backing. It's not cheap. Then enters Lottie, whom I absolutely loved by the way! She may be the financial assistance Astrid needed, but Lottie taught Astrid and Magnolia about becoming better in many ways, but also staying true to themselves and setting goals, staying strong, and defying the odds.
"Strength is forgetting everything I've taught you and becoming a machine. It's reaching inside yourself and finding you are not someone to be toyed with. It's taking every doubt you have and crushing it beneath your heel.
"You, Astrid Sullivan, are an Oleander--beautiful, graceful, intoxicating.
"May God have mercy on the person who touches you, and brings their fingers to their lips." (This is just a glimpse of the quote that made my heart skip a beat. Lottie is an amazing mentor and taught very valuable lessons to Astrid and Magnolia.)
Astrid had many road blocks along the way. But she leaned on her friend and trusted in those who believed in her the most. It broke my heart that her father wasn't the man she needed him to be. She sought after his approval and loving arms only to be denied and mocked. I actually couldn't stand her father. He made my blood boil. Here's a quote that made me angry and broke my heart. As much as Astrid wants to win, and as angry as her dad is at her, what he says out loud pierced a hole in my heart for her.
"I've been going to those races since I was thirteen years old. And now I'm riding them. I'm doing well, and I can do even better." I suck in a deep breath. "I can win, Daddy."
My dad does the worst thing he could--he laughs. He laughs, but his eyes brim with sadness as he glares at Rags. "She can't win. You know it, and I know it. She'll only get hurt."
And let's talk about that infamous Titan, Padlock. This robotic creature grew on me and I adored it. Astrid's relationship with her Titan was slow building. Realistically, she saw it as a machine, not a real animal that feels emotion. And along their journey Astrid opens her heart up to Padlock and allows herself to trust and care for him. There were some cute moments between the two.
In the final stretch, you really understand just how amazing Astrid is, and how big her heart is. A memorable character is one who stands out. It could be something you relate to, or even could be on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Either way, you just don't forget about them for quite some time. This book has multiple memorable characters.
Races came and went. But what really drove me to love this story besides the action was everything else. The emotion behind the characters actions, the reasoning as to who they were in the story. It's almost too difficult to put into words. But trust me, this is one fantastic book!