Title: The Scorpion Rules
Author: Erin Bow
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
In the future, the UN has brought back an ancient way to keep the peace. The children of world leaders are held hostage—if a war begins, they pay with their lives.
Greta is the Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy, a superpower formed of modern-day Canada. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. The hostages are Talis’s strategy to keep the peace: if her country enters a war, Greta 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. Greta is furious that Elian has disrupted their quiet, structured world. But slowly, his rebellion opens her 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 mete out punishment. Which surely means that Greta and Elian will be killed...unless Greta can think of a way to save them.
It's not very often that I stay up all night reading a book, but I did for The Scorpion Rules. I think that worked both for and against the novel because on one hand, there's not much better than reading a dark book (no, I don't mean scary) alone in the dark. On the other hand, I can't quite figure out if the weirdness of the novel was due to my insomnia or if The Scorpion Rules was just a strange book.
The concept of the book is interesting, if nothing else - the children of world leaders are taken and held hostage under the guidance of an AI overlord, Talis. These children are kept safe at Preceptures until they are eighteen, or until their parents or grandparents declare war on another country or region. In that case, the children in question are taken and executed. This is rather efficient as no one can step into any sort of position of major power without them having a child to have held again them.
The main character of The Scorpion Rules is Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy. As the heir to a superpower that holds a great water supply, she knows that she may be put to death as a result of her mother declaring war at any time. Following the death of a schoolmate from a rival confederacy, a new hostage came to the Precepture from the country that formed from the war that killed Greta's friend. The story follows how she deals with him (Elián) and the knowledge that his arrival almost certainly means her death.
The Scorpion Rules started out strongly, allowing me to get attached to the story and characters, but it started going all over the place as it progressed. By the end, I was scratching my head. It wasn't bad, it was just weird. I will say that I didn't call the romance, but I didn't care either. I didn't understand why Greta had to have one.
The Scorpion Rules is a new, fascinating spin on the ol' dystopia, and I recommend it, even if you're tired of the genre. It's no masterpiece, but it's still a good book.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.