Review of The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

TheScorpionRulesThe Scorpion Rules
By: Erin Bow
Release Date: September 22nd 2015
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Jaime (thank you!!)

My Rating:

A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages. The Children of Peace – sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals – are raised together in small, isolated schools called Preceptures. There, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war.

Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is the pride of the North American Prefecture. Learned and disciplined, Greta is proud of her role in keeping the global peace, even though, with her country controlling two-thirds of the world’s most war-worthy resource — water — she has little chance of reaching adulthood alive.

Enter Elián Palnik, the Prefecture’s newest hostage and biggest problem. Greta’s world begins to tilt the moment she sees Elián dragged into the school in chains. The Prefecture’s insidious surveillance, its small punishments and rewards, can make no dent in Elián, who is not interested in dignity and tradition, and doesn’t even accept the right of the UN to keep hostages.

What will happen to Elián and Greta as their two nations inch closer to war?

My Thoughts:
The idea behind this book was so wonderfully fantastic I’m still in awe of it. This book was intense, the world detailed and really just an excellent read. Don’t go into this one expecting much action though…this book relies on thought provoking situations.

I’m really not sure what this book would be classified as for genre but it had a dystopian, science fiction feel to me. It even had a boarding school feel with the Preceptures. For some reason, I’m a huge fan of the isolated society within a boarding school (Hogwarts anyone?) or the like. I love that the attendees create their own social structure and I always feel books with this have an extra dose of interesting for me.

Looking at the star ratings on Goodreads you can see that this book is either hit or miss with people. I think what really won me over was the AI character and how the world worked. I did have a disconnect to the characters and never really formed an emotional bond with them. The romance was another thing that was meh to me. It does contain a love triangle but this one is a bit different than the normal one because it focuses on our main character and a girl and a guy. It wasn’t my favorite set-up since I had a lot of trouble feeling any chemistry between some of the characters.

Where I found myself completely immersed was during every section containing the artificial intelligence named Talis. This character was incredibly well done in my opinion and made the book for me. Talis alone was the character I felt the most towards and the history behind how artificial intelligence was approached in this society was very interesting.

Final Thoughts:
The Scorpion Rules was a very intriguing read for me that introduced one of my favorite characters in a long time. Though I loved many aspects of this book, such as the main story arc, the characters in general fell a tad flat and I never could connect very deeply to the main character. Regardless, I really enjoyed my reading experience and fully recommend this read to anyone interested in an unique take on dystopian with an amazing artificial intelligence element.


    • says

      It seems like most of my friends disliked this book a good amount. It really worked for me (though I had zero connection to the characters) I think Talis saved it for me.

  1. says

    Hmmm, a dystopian with an interesting AI character?? (it instantly made me think of Aidan from Illuminae!!) That sounds really intriguing for sure, even if an emotional disconnet from most other characters and a romance that made you go meh is something that gives me pause.
    Thank you for a fantastic honest review as always Kristen!

    • says

      This book is REALLY hit or miss. I have no clue if you’d like it Pili. The A.I. is SO MUCH different than Illuminae’s but done well too. If you ever read it I’ll love to hear your thoughts.

  2. says

    This book seems to have really polarised reviews – I’d like to give it a go, just to see which end of the spectrum I end up on! It sounds like there’s a lot to enjoy about this one, and I’m certainly all for more unique dystopias!

    • says

      I really can’t predict who will enjoy it and who won’t. I’m actually surprised so many people loathed it so very much! I would love to hear what side you fall on. Books like this are so much fun because you can never tell if it’ll work or not for you.

  3. says

    Ohhh, yay 😀 Gorgeous review Kristen. <3 I had heard some bad things about this book.. so I love seeing that you loved it 😀 I don't think it will be for me, but you have made me curious. So thrilled that this book worked for you 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts sweet girl. <3

    • says

      I don’t think this would work for you Carina. It hit on a couple things I know you dislike (kissing two different people, etc). I think you’d not appreciate the main character. I have found it intriguing how many people have really disliked this one.

  4. says

    Oh! I’m glad to see you liked this one! I’ve been having a hard time seeing some of the negative reviews because I am SO invested in this book (waited a full hour to see Erin Bow at her BEA signing and also wrote the starred review it got from SLJ).

    I really liked this one because it was so well-done. It’s diverse and tense and just so smart. I also adored Talis (who doesn’t?). I get where you’re coming from with not connecting with the characters, but at the same time I think that’s kind of the point because Greta spends so much time trying to be practical and detached about her situation.

    I just heard last week that Bow is also writing a companion novel so I’m excited to see what comes next too!

  5. says

    Aw, I’m sorry you couldn’t connect well with the characters, but I’m glad you loved it in spite of that! I adored this book and most of the characters, and I especially really enjoyed the moments with Talis. That character was certainly intriguing, and brought so much humor to the story (I mean, that prologue was fantastic!). The world and the idea of these children being held hostage and would be killed if their parents went to war was fascinating to me, and it just felt entirely different from so much dystopia I’ve read before.

    Great review, Kristen!! 🙂


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