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I Belong

Review: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

The Scorpion RulesTitleThe Scorpion Rules

AuthorErin Bow

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Series: Prisoners of Peace (Book #1)

Publication Date: June 7th, 2016

Format: Paperback, 400 Pages

ISBN-10: 1481442724 (Simon Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-1481442725 (Simon Teen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin


The children of world leaders are held hostage in an attempt to keep the peace in this “slyly humorous, starkly thought-provoking” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) novel.

Greta is a Duchess and a Crown Princess. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Start a war and your hostage dies.

The system has worked for centuries. Parents don’t want to see their children murdered.

Greta will be free if she can make it to her eighteenth birthday. Until then she is prepared to die with dignity, if necessary. But everything changes when Elian arrives at the Precepture. He’s a hostage from a new American alliance, and he defies the machines that control every part of their lives—and is severely punished for it. His rebellion opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the rules they live under, and to the subtle resistance of her companions. And Greta discovers her own quiet power.

Then Elian’s country declares war on Greta’s and invades the prefecture, taking the hostages hostage. Now the great Talis is furious, and coming himself to deliver punishment. Which surely means that Greta and Elian will be killed…unless Greta can think of a way to break all the rules.

Quick & Dirty: An interesting reading experience about a dystopian world.

Opening Sentence: Sit down, kiddies.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Greta is a prisoner of peace, a child of the Precepture. Until she turns 18, she lives in a constant risk of her home country falling into war – and if wars are started in your kingdom, the child of the ruler dies. This has been the way of things, ever since the AI Talis took over the world after dropping bombs that killed most of the world’s population. Her life has been methodical, albeit dangerous and constantly anxiety inducing, since she was moved to the Precepture. And then a new boy comes, one who is not like the other children of peace. He fights the system. And Greta begins to think differently about her circumstances.

I don’t know how I felt about the antagonist, Talis. He was an AI, so I expected his words to be clipped or sound mechanical or intelligent. Instead, Bow chose to give him slang and a rather childish vocabulary and attitude for someone who killed most of the world. In taking her creative liberties, she added some entertainment to the novel, which I enjoyed – though I will admit sometimes I was skeptical to his word choice. For example, the first sentence: “sit it down, kiddies. Let me tell you a story”. That doesn’t scream sociopathic robot to me.

There was a love triangle in the novel. The main character was bisexual, and I find it refreshing how the LGBT characters are starting to assimilate themselves more into different YA genres. However, I wasn’t a huge fan of the love triangle situation, and I never truly knew where Greta’s heart lied. I had trouble following all the implications of each interaction and how they interwove. I didn’t think a love triangle was entirely necessary, but nonetheless, it didn’t take anything from the main plot, so it didn’t bother me too much.

The book flowed at an interesting pace. Even though there was little action, there was almost always heavy suspense and tension about something or other. The book definitely winded up in a place I didn’t see it going, which interests me as to how the author could continue the sequel. I appreciated Greta’s character and the strength she gained, although she was strong from the start, and I always loved her steely resilience and ability for a poker face. She developed immensely and made quite a few difficult decisions.

Altogether, it was a decent novel. I found it was enjoyable and unlike anything I had read before. The author’s writing style has a unique cadence that makes reading the novel a unique experience. Would I recommend this? It depends on the person. I think many will love it and find it easily readable, but some will have a couple small issues like I did. Nevertheless, I would encourage people to give the first few chapters a try and decide whether or not it meshes!

Notable Scene:

Something ugly – memory? – crawled across Thandi’s face.

Elian looked stricken.

“It’s all right,” I told him softly.

He answered with a snarl like a wounded lion. “Dammit, Greta, it’s not all right.”

Prisoners of Peace Series:

1. The Scorpion Rules

2. The Swan Riders


FTC Advisory: Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon and Schuster provided me with a copy of The Scorpion Rules. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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