This is probably the best book I've read in many years. I'd give it more stars if I could. A dystopian fantasy set in a future where land wars have given over to oil wars and finally water wars before the AI Talis sets a new order to keep the human population from wiping itself out. His first rule of war: "make it personal," and replaces a system that allows leaders to send unknowns off to war; instead every leader must give a child to be held hostage, a child whose life is forfeit if his country declares war.
Told from the perspective of one of these children, it is easy as a reader take their side. How horrible to live with the constant threat of death, to be torn from your family, to know your family may choose war over your life if necessary. And when a new boy, Elian, is hostaged but won't play by the rules, it would have been simple for Bow to take the easy out, with Elian playing hero and the children changing the system. But this novel never takes the easy way.
I see several reviews about the "tired tropes" here, but this book isn't about tropes. Elian doesn't "open" Greta's eyes that the situation is horrible, she's always known that; instead he shows her her own power and that in protecting herself, she has cut herself off from the suffering of her friends. This isn't a love story (or at least that kind of love story). Talis isn't the bad guy. Maybe there isn't a bad guy. Honestly, if all you get from the book is goats, you may not be ready for this book.
Politically thoughtful, emotionally wrenching, sweet, humourous, and horrifying, the characters and questions Bow raises will stick with you long after the final page.
The book, The Scorpion Rules, written by Erin Bow, explores many themes and conflicts about the degrading environment we have created, when defining the word “humanity”. The book takes place in the potential future, where it could be considered dystopian even though the comparison towards our own society is uncanny. It takes place under the notion that Earth is now a war torn planet, with scarce resources and a lack of peace, and in order to sustain society, the UN takes extreme measures to control wars and conflicts. The main idea for limiting these problems is to make it personal to the world leaders, and as it takes place in the future, technology, such as Artificial Intelligence, is used to reinforce these new-found laws. Therefore, this society has very limited freedom and independence, which at first does not seem to bother the main character, Greta, a very important child in the society. However, as she is introduced to new people, conflicts and love, her opinion and strength as the world around her continues to disappear. This book overall is intended for an audience of 14 years old and older, as the theme and concepts are quite profoundly presented to demonstrate the crises and conflicts of the future.
- @Because_Logic of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library
I really wanted to like this more than I did. It felt like he character development was a priority, but the plot development lagged for me and there were too many unexplained holes for my liking. That being said, the book got more enjoyable as it went along, and I appreciated the numerous subtle devices used to challenge gender and the more overt ones used to address sexuality and the development of power.
I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. Bow sets the scene wonderfully and includes enough tech descriptions and explanations to give a neophyte like me a fighting chance to understand what's going on in the story. The characters are fairly well developed, but of course they are all children of royals and other leaders (I guess we expect them to be fairly shallow). It's a new way to deal with a dystopian world, explore the price of power, and address class divisions and love interests. Loved the quotes from Talis.
"Scorpion Rules" by Erin Bow was a wonderful read. It takes place in an dystopian future, but has an exciting, original twist. In it royal children are held hostage by the robot overlord Talis to keep the various countries from going to war. If they do go to war it's off with their kid's head! An exciting, thought-provoking, original idea. Bow isn't afraid to get technical, but amazingly doesn't doesn't go overboard with it. Great character development. Hilarious, suspenseful, and intriguing. Kept me interested until the very last word.
Enjoyed idea....characters not so much. Only Elian and Talis. That's it. Especially not the relationships. Will not be reading the series. Dissapointing!!
I liked the idea...but not so much the characters...
This is a very original piece of dystopian fiction. Greta is a princess kept as hostage with other royal children in order to keep world peace. If one country causes war on another, their child is forfeit and will be put to death. Great character development in all characters here--Greta, Elian, and Xie, in particular. Really kept me interested and I couldn't wait to see what happened at the end.
Bow’s book has elements of sci-fi woven through an adrenaline-pumping narrative. Expect the sequel will fly off the shelves.
Argh. I am struggling with how to rate this one, because I have many conflicting feelings. First of all, I am thoroughly sick of dystopias, so at times I found my attention wandering while reading this. But, on the other hand, in the bloated YA dystopia market, this is one that definitely deserves to be read -- the characters are diverse and vividly characterized, the premise for the world feels more logical than the half-baked worldbuilding that characterizes some of the recent bestsellers in this genre, and, refreshingly, Bow doesn't shy away from diving into the sci-fi aspects of the world, with lots of focus on artificial intelligence, which is portrayed in a surprisingly nuanced fashion. There is a clear set-up for sequels, too. While my personal disinclination for dystopia means that I wasn't over-the-moon in love with this, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to anyone that's a fan of the genre and, indeed, think it's superior to the majority of the other YA books of this type already on the shelves.
"Nah. You can fly - I know you can. Look at her."
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