Book Review: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow


Publisher: McElderry Books

Date of Publication: September 22, 2015

Dates Read: August 26th – September 11, 2016


The world is at peace, said the Utterances. And really, if the odd princess has a hard day, is that too much to ask?

Greta is a duchess and crown princess—and a hostage to peace. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Go to war and your hostage dies.

Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the Precepture school with the daughters and sons of the world’s leaders. Like them, she is taught to obey the machines that control their lives. Like them, she is prepared to die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives. Elián is a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. And he opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power.

As Greta and Elián watch their nations tip closer to war, Greta becomes a target in a new kind of game. A game that will end up killing them both—unless she can find a way to break all the rules.

Buy It From: Chapters | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Despite being spoiled for the end of this book, it still managed to surprise me.

The characters were wonderfully different; each had specific characteristics that set them apart, both in their looks and in their personalities. In this PanPolar (Canadian) Precepture, there were Children from all over the world: Greta, Elián, Li Da-Xia, Thandi, Atta, Han, and Gregori, all of whom grew and developed as the story progresses. I came to love all of these Children, which of course caused a bit of heartbreak along the way.

I liked the concept of this book, and enjoyed Erin Bow’s writing style, though sometimes it could be a little information heavy and dragged out due to its complexity. It definitely had a slower pace than most dystopians, so I can understand why some people may find it boring. This pace to me, however, translated into a suspenseful novel, where you didn’t know who would get in trouble and what the consequences would be.

The Scorpion Rules also really changes up how you see the person you would assume to be the enemy. Since Talis is the one who’s pretty much in charge, in the usual dystopian that would be the person you’d expect the teenagers to take down. But Talis is given a personality, a real humanness and backstory despite being a ruthless AI, that makes you kind of like him. We may not agree with all of his actions, but he is the AI who has managed to bring the world peace.

And if you’re wondering about romance, it doesn’t play a major role in this book. There is a little bit of it, including LGBTQAI+ romance. This book also manages to touch on different kinds of love outside of romantic love, particularly love between supportive friends.

Overall: A suspenseful and complex read that has me excited to read the next book, The Swan Riders.


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