Book review: The Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow

Bow Scorpion RulesBow, Erin. The Scorpion Rules. (Prisoners of Peace, #1). Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015. $17.99. 384p. HC. 9781481442718.

Four hundred years ago, the world as we know it developed an Artificial Intelligence, Talis, and charged it with saving humanity – which Talis did… by taking control. After annihilating a few cities to make a statement, Talis took the children of every ruler as a Prisoner of Peace until they reach eighteen – if they reach eighteen. If the parents, the leaders and governing dignitaries of countries, go to war, the Children of Peace’s lives are forfeit.

Our main character, Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, and the other Children of Peace in her Precepture live in fear of the dust plumes that indicate a Swan Rider is coming. Swan Riders, tasked with taking the Children into the Gray Room, only come when war is declared, and on the morning The Scorpion Rules begins a dust trail is spotted.

This is a romance, but it is a simmering love that backgrounds the plot. The characters rarely acted out of character or beyond age-appropriateness, considering the circumstances. GLBTQA+ pairings were in the fore- and back-grounds, and there was even a developing romance between the main character and two other characters, but these were handled the same way heterosexual pairings are treated in novels: As a matter of course.

If readers are coming to The Scorpion Rules to experience a sexual crisis alongside the main character, they will be disappointed. I honestly thought Geta was going to come out as asexual, but it turns out she romantically loves a female cohort and is falling in romantic love with a boy recently brought to the Precepture – and this, too, is treated as a matter of course.

This book had action, Artificial Intelligence, intrigue, plots to overthrow sentient computer overlords, and political drama! The characters were politically savvy, flushed-out, teens lead by a likable female protagonist. The writing – especially the dialogue – is witty and smart. The Scorpion Rules presents a whole, interesting story, delivers a neat ending, and leaves me excited for Erin Bow’s next Prisoners of Peace installment all at once.

Fans of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, Veronica Roth’s Divergent Trilogy, The 5th Wave, and Marie Lu’s Legend series will want to grab a copy of this title!

Sarah Burkard
Adult and Digital Services Librarian
Glencoe Public Library

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