The Scorpion Rules
Simon & Shuster, 2015 384 pgs
Welcome to the world of the future, where environmental destruction and war have left what remains in chaos. In desperation the United Nations has set a system in place, keeping children from ruling families hostages. If a country declares war on another, the children of the rulers die. The children are kept in isolated camps, training in history, diplomacy, and economics and growing their own food and tending livestock. Princess Greta of the Pan Polar Confederacy (Canada) is one of the "Children of Peace" and on high alert, since her country is on the brink of war. Her friend,Sydney, a resident of what is now the former United States, is taken away and killed to be replaced by a new boy, Elian, a former farmer. Elian refuses to conform to the rules of the school and resents being a pawn in the game of international diplomacy. Despite the conflicts between their two countries and Elian causing trouble for Greta and her classmates, she is drawn to the young man. Before long feelings develop between the two, but Greta is also suddenly attracted to her roommate Da-Xia. Her confusing feelings are put on hold as the school is under attack by Elian's grandmother, who has come to rescue Elian and force Greta's mother to share with her country (The United States) much needed water. Enter Talis, the former human, now robot ruler of the world. Greta must quickly devise a plan to save herself and her friends without Talis blowing up any cities to teach them a lesson. She has a plan, but the out come results in deaths, and it comes at quite a cost to Greta.
Erin Bow presents a cautionary tale of the future; what can happen if we don't start taking care of our planet and put a stop to war. The "Children of Peace" are innocent bystanders to the bad choices of their grown-ups and must pay with their lives for their diplomatic choices. The concept of this book is interesting and different. The characters are well developed and unique, especially Talis (the head honcho), who adds comic relief, despite his apathetic slaughtering of political prisoners. The plot is exciting, the writing tight, and the action is abundant with many cliff hangers and twists and turns. My only complaint is that it somehow, even with all of the action, felt a little longer than it needed to be. Greta is a strong character, if not particularly interesting, and readers will relate to her. Having two love interests, male and female, set the book apart from the typical love triangle and reflects the increasingly blurred lines of sexuality our young people are experiencing. There is a lot of violence in the story, but Bow doesn't get too graphic. The romance gets passionate, but is not described in detail. The concept of this story is great, even if it does get a bit bogged down. Teenagers won't care. They will suffer along with Princess Greta as she makes tough decisions and fights for the lives of herself and those she loves. The Scorpion Rules will find a natural audience with The Hunger Games/Divergent crowd and will be sure to find a readership.