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.
I’m not a sports fan. Hockey, baseball, soccer, football…I couldn’t care less. But give me a race with an interesting track (no NASCAR circles please), a cool racing vehicle (mechs are a plus), and a twist (add in some super awesome danger!) and you’ve hit on K8’s favorite things. For some reason, race stories like Skid by Doug Solter and the TV show IGPX completely fascinate me. I can feel the adrenaline of each race as I cheer on our main character as they scrape tooth and nail to get to the finish line. Titans is that kind of racing novel.
Astrid, our main character, is a girl from the wrong side of the fence. Her chances of ever riding a Titan machine (a mechanical horse, can you say epic? EPIC!) are close to zilch. Life at home is rough as her father is laid off yet again and the eviction notice has already arrived. But by some weird twist of fate Astrid finds herself with the chance to race with the Titans. Winning the races is her golden ticket to saving her family but racing is a chance that could cost her her very life.
What I really loved about Titans is the underlying message that it is okay to bet on yourself. While betting on cards can set a family to ruin, betting on (believing in) yourself could be the one thing that saves the day. Victoria was able to convey this by letting us live in Astrid’s shoes as she learns it is okay to have dreams and to chase after them.
With her excellent portrayal of Astrid’s family Victoria also excellently weaves in the drive behind Astrid’s need to win the races. Each person in Astrid’s family has a unique struggle and as Astrid comes to learn and understand this she learns how to forgive them and herself. The character development here was excellently paired with the excitement of the races to create a compelling tale readers will love. A great read for lovers of adrenaline filled adventure with strong character development.