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The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

ScorpRulesFour hundred years ago the world developed an Artificial Intelligence called Talis and charged it with saving humanity, which Talis did… by taking control. After annihilating a few cities as a statement, Talis takes all the rulers’ children until they reach the age of 18 - if they live that long. Should the leaders and governing dignitaries go to war, the children’s lives are forfeit.


Bow’s Sci-Fi novel is labeled for “Young Adults” but it’s also enjoyable for those of us who have exceeded the boundaries of YA. The main character of the book, named Greta Gustafsen Stuart, and the other Children of Peace in her school 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; on the morning The Scorpion Rules begins, a dust trail is spotted.


This is a romance, but it is a simmering one that backgrounds the plot. The characters rarely act beyond age-appropriateness, considering the circumstances. GLBTQA+ pairings are in the fore- and back-grounds. This is a book where the protagonist is a girl in love with a girl (sans any sexual crisis), but it is also a thrilling tale in which the ladies are future queens and they realize it. Greta knows about politics, and she grew up playing the Game. The subtlety with which Bow writes these characters emphasizes the potential they have to become political powerhouses. Beyond politics and romance, however, The Scorpion Rules depicts one of the most supportive and powerful female YA friendships I have seen in awhile.


This book has action, Artificial Intelligence, intrigue, humor, and drama. The characters are politically savvy, flushed-out, teens lead by a likable female protagonist. The writing - especially the dialogue - is both witty and smart. The Scorpion Rules presents an interesting story, delivers a neat ending, and leaves me excited for the author’s next installment in her Prisoners of Peace series.



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