The Prisoners of Peace: The Scorpion Rules

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.

I read The Scorpion Rules as an ARC in 2015, but since I now have the second book I wanted to go back and do a reread for Series Monday.

When the world finally collapses because of what we have done to it, what will become of us? The ice caps are melting, the Nazis are back, North Korea has a nuke pointed at us, and our President…well…no one really knows what he’s going to do next. The world is scary as shit right now.

Erin Bow seems to understand that fact. Her book, The Scorpion Rules, lays out exactly what may happen when all that nastiness comes to a head. And it’s one of those dystopian scenarios that is just believable enough to be absolutely terrifying.

You know that global warming thing everyone talks about? It has completely melted the polar ice, redistributing the earth’s water sources–which means also redistributing much of the population. And with any population redistribution comes war. Lots of it.

Enter Talis–an AI created to solve this crisis of change. The humans, I’m sure, imagined him mostly a structural engineer–come in, fix some infrastructure, move some bodies around, build some walls, done. Instead, what they got was a being a lot more like Marvel’s Vision–wholly devoted only to the perfect solution. BOOM! Cities got blown up. Obviously, people were pissed. Still, it didn’t work. Cities get attention, but are, to a point, expendable.

Talis had to make things personal. Enter the Preceptures. To be eligible for a high power position, you must have a child. Why? Because that child will be sent to a monastery and be held hostage. If you go to war with another country, that child will be the first one killed (along with the child of the leader you go to war with).

HOLY SHIT.

Talis don’t mess around, ya’ll.

Most books written 400+ years in our future include space ships and Mars and Earth being eradicated and desolate. Really, not that much has changed in this book as far as technology. The children still milk goats and eat zucchini and read Socrates, all on a farm/monastery in Canada (Really, this book could have been called The Goat Rules). The biggest advances surround the AIs, and that is to be expected. The shape of the earth has shifted, but people still inhabit it.

I think that’s why this book was so relatable and therefore so alarming. I know we are all trying to get to Mars and colonize space, but the future in this book seems so much more likely to me. And oh man did it make my heart race. It’s part dystopian YA, part scifi, part thriller. By the end of it, I was screaming right along with Greta. I’m going to leave you with this image: APPLE CIDER PRESS.

Also, bisexual princesses, gay princes, all with the freedom of to express their sexuality without judgment.

I loved The Scorpion Rules when it came out two years ago, and I’ve not stopped referring to it ever since. It was just as good the second time, and I’m really looking forward to The Swan Riders next week!

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