Talis’s first rule of stopping wars is to make it personal.
Charged with saving humanity from itself, the powerful artificial intelligence swiftly establishes a series of rules and initiatives to keep humanity at peace. Oh, and he also takes over the world.
Four hundred years later, Talis’s every word is recorded in the Utterances and some cultures believe he is a god. They might be right.
To ensure that the world’s leaders know the exact cost of any declaration of war, Talis takes hostages. The Children of Peace are the heirs to thrones and ruling positions around the world. They are hostages living under the constant threat of execution.
If war is declared the lives of both nation’s hostages are immediately forfeit.
Greta Gustafson Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederation, is a seventh generation hostage at Precepture Four in Saskatchewan where she has lived most of her life. She embodies the ideals of the Children of Peace and knows to follow the rules even with her country on the brink of war.
Elián Palnik is a new hostage who arrives at Precepture Four with none of the dignity ingrained in the other hostages. Instead he refuses to accept any of the tenets of the Children of Peace, forcing Greta to question everything she believes as she struggles to save Elián from Talis, the Precepture and even himself in The Scorpion Rules (2015) by Erin Bow.
I’m hesitant to say I enjoyed The Scorpion Rules, or even that it’s a favorite, simply because parts of it are so harrowing and so difficult to process. But I can say this: Bow delivers a knock-out dystopian that I devoured with my heart in my mouth.
Greta is a pragmatic and analytical narrator with a wry sense of humor even in the worst situations. Goats also help bring levity to the otherwise weighty narrative in countless ways.
Masterful, electric prose and wit make even the hardest moments bearable as Greta and her friends endure countless hardships with grace and aplomb befitting the world’s future leaders in this powerful story.
The Scorpion Rules is further strengthened by a diverse, memorable cast of characters with realistically complicated relationships (both romantic and platonic), brilliant plotting and shocking twists.The minute readers get a handle on the story, Bow turns everything upside down and moves the novel in a new direction.
A gripping story about rebirth, transformation and choice. The Scorpion Rules weaves together science, ethics and humor in this story that delves deep into the human condition and questions the nature of choice and what must be sacrificed for the sake of the greater good.
Guaranteed to have high appeal on many levels. Highly Recommended.
Possible Pairings: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Fire by Kristin Cashore, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E. K. Johnston, The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid, Winterspell by Claire LeGrand, Soundless by Richelle Mead, Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer and Douglas Holgate, Clariel by Garth Nix, Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien, For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, And I Darken by Kiersten White
*A copy this book was acquired from the publisher for review consideration at BEA 2015*
*A more condensed version of this review appeared in the August 2015 issue of School Library Journal from which it can be seen on various sites online as a Starred Review*