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Don’t Bite The Hand That Rules The World

Mix one part post-apocalyptic plot with three parts science fiction (and throw in an surprising ending and unexpected humor to taste) and you’ve got Erin Bow’s new novel, The Scorpion Rules.

Don’t Bite The Hand That Rules The World

BOOK REPORT for The Scorpion Rules (Prisoners of Peace #1) by Erin Bow

Cover Story: Not Comfy
BFF Charm: Natalie Imbruglia
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: Strength of Character(s)
Bonus Factors: Sassy Skynet, Diversity
Relationship Status: Fancy a Second Date?

Cover Story: Not Comfy

Iron Throne, it’s not, but I still wouldn’t want to sit on this chair. I’m not sure if it’s made of scorpions or that’s just the pattern of the fabric (and that tagline could be taken both literally or figuratively), but either way, I’m content to stick with my dog hair-covered couch from Ikea. I might not be able to wear dark clothes, but I also won’t die a horrible death from scorpion poisoning.

The Deal:

Hundreds of years in the future, after humanity drives themselves to the brink of extinction, an AI named Talis takes control of the world. In order to bring about peace, he takes a page from history and sets up a system of Preceptures, special schools where the children of world leaders and royalty—the Children of Peace—live together as hostages whose lives will be forfeit if their countries ever go to war.

Greta Gustafsen Stuart is the Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation. Although she could be called upon at any moment to give up her life, she’s ready to do it, for crown and country. But then Elián Palnik arrives at the Precepture, and he’s anything but willing to just give up without a fight.

BFF Charm: Natalie Imbruglia

Greta’s a great girl. She’s intelligent, a born leader, and has the whole loyal Child of Peace thing down pat. But she might be a little too eager to go off to her death—and I’m not a huge fan of losing the people I care about.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

When Elián first comes to the Preceptures, he makes an impact on Greta, but the impact isn’t what you might expect. There are others in Greta’s life who mean just as much—or more—although it takes Greta a while to figure that out. (Meaning, yes, there is a bit of a love triangle situation. But it’s resolved in a unique manner.)

Talky Talk: Strength of Character(s)

We learn about life at the Precepture, and life as a Child of Peace, through Greta’s eyes and thoughts. In her recent Between Two Lockers interview, Erin Bow talks about how much of a multi-faceted character Greta is:

Greta is a duchess and a princess, the hereditary heir apparent of a superpower. She’s also a hostage to peace. If her nation goes to war, she’s going to be executed. She has spent her whole life preparing for this, and she will tell you flat out that she is not afraid.

Except, of course, that she’s terrified.

This multi-faceted nature is true for the other characters in The Scorpion Rules as well. None of them are exactly who they seem at face value, and that makes for a much more interesting story. Even Talis, who should be nothing more than feared and revered, has many qualities that make him a well-rounded “person.”

Bow also does well with the world building—at least in the explanation of how the world got where it is. I had a bit of trouble comprehending the new boundaries of the various kingdoms/countries, however. (Thankfully, Bow also revealed in her interview that there is a map!)

Bonus Factor: Sassy Skynet

Talis, the AI that rules over the world, is—at the heart of the matter—a truly frightening entity. But he’s actually hilariously sarcastic, and acts more like a human than many of the other characters in the book. His “rules,” which are scattered through the book, often go hand in hand with nonchalant remarks and sassy quips that add a lighthearted quality to an otherwise very serious story.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Because the Children of Peace have been taken from various nations around the world, they’re a variety of ethnicities and from a variety of cultures. Greta is Canadian, Elián is American (but it’s become even more of a melting pot in the centuries since our time), and other characters in the books come from Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, Northern Europe, and more.

Casting Call:

Emily VanCamp as Greta

Yani Gellman as Elián

Relationship Status: Fancy a Second Date?

You were quite a surprise, Book. I thought I knew what to expect from our date, but was continuously pleasantly surprised. I definitely look forward to getting together again.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book by Margaret K. McElderry Books, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. The Scorpion Rules is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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