I stumbled across this one on Goodreads the other day and decided to give it a go. The paperback was checked out so I gave the audio book a whirl. Let’s just say this book was a pleasant surprise.
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow is a YA dystopia with an unusual twist. In this world each ruling faction hands over one child to serve as a hostage to peace. If any country or ruling power declares war, then their hostage–their children–are forfeit. In this way world peace is kept…for the most part. Wars are still declared and children murdered for the “good” of all.
Greta is a child of peace. She is a princess in waiting and in less than two years she will be 18 and no longer under the collar of death. Greta has lived most of her life in the Precepture, one school of many for the worlds royal hostages. She knows death could come at any moment and yet she is the epitome of a child of peace. She is strong, smart, diplomatic, obedient, royal in every way. Greta accepts her fate and the fate of her friends and cohorts… that is, until a new child of peace comes to the Precepture and changes everything.
Will Greta bow to a seemingly all powerful ruler or will she play the game and change the rules?
This seems like a simple, girl meets boy, boy wakes girl up to world around her, girl changes world, they all live happily ever after… right? Yea, that’s what I thought too. Uh no. Don’t let the synopsis fool you, this book is so much more. For starters, the ruling power, the person who enforces the rules, is an AI. An artificial intelligence name Talis, who, years ago, took over the UN and enforced his rule on the world to “make it a better place.”
The technology in this book is a weirdly ok meld of high and low tech… AI’s, optical implants, data ports, intelligence possessions, zeppelins, horseback–you get the drift. And yet, this isn’t your usual AI, world domination. This is so far from the Terminator or any other robot takeover you can imagine. The AI’s don’t feel like robots, they are so very human. This book feels more like a fantasy then a sci-fi dystopia. So even if you don’t like robots, give it a try–you will be surprised.
I’m just going to say it… I loved Talis. Our “evil” all powerful ruler, was just fantastic. He is obviously psychotic, inappropriately witty, too charismatic for his own good and just plain likable. I liked him. A lot. He isn’t necessarily even a bad guy. He wants peace and has gone to extreme lengths to obtain it. All plans are flawed right?
The idea of keeping children as hostages for peace was really intriguing for me. Even without the AI’s this would have been an interesting premise and not super far fetched. History is full of holding hostages to sue for peace. So it was neat reading a book where every ruler had to handover a child.
This book gets 3.5 stars and as I am writing this is even creeping toward 4. However, there were a few chapters leading up to the conclusion that were just too slow for me. But for those of you that like all your ends tied up nice and neat, it probably won’t bother you.
If your looking for a fluffy romance, this isn’t really the book for you. If your looking for a sophisticated book with new ideas and stellar thought provoking characters, then enjoy.
That’s all for now!