A girl rides a mechanical racehorse to save her family.
Seventeen-year-old Astrid has long been fascinated with the Titans, automated steel horses that race on a clandestine track near her Detroit home. Now, as her father searches for work and eviction looms, she gets a chance to ride in the races—on a Titan 1.0, the original, never-raced version. Astrid's Titan, named Padlock, has an EvoBox that allows him to express emotions the way a real horse would. He even comes equipped with an autopilot mode that allows him to supersede her commands. Astrid, however, can't bring herself to relinquish control—too much depends upon her success. Why she believes herself a more competent racer than the equine computer is unclear—as are several points in this story, including why the updated Titans don't have EvoBoxes and what exactly the point of the EvoBox is. Readers who know horses will find the story’s details are off. However, Scott’s pacing and prose are first-rate, and if her characters are sometimes inconsistent, they express themselves forcefully and well. The story, told through Astrid's eyes, proceeds at breakneck pace to the final, sadly somewhat predictable, dramatic conclusion.
It’s hard not to wonder whether the book started as Scorpio Races fanfiction, yet in the end Scott makes it into something better—not brilliant, but better. (Science fiction. 12 & up)