Review: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Posted October 28, 2015 by lockhartbecca in Reviews / 7 Comments

The Scorpion Rules

Author: Erin Bow
Series: Prisoners of Peace #1
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Format: ARC
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Source: ARC received from publisher at BEA
Rating: 5 Stars
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***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way changed my opinion of the book. The review below is my open and honest opinion.***


Synopsis from Goodreads:


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.

My Review:


Looking at Goodreads, it’s clear that people either love this book or hate it. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. I’m in the former category. I thought this book was amazing. Cleverly woven, full of political intrigue and a great cast of characters, I was glued to the pages.


The world has been taken over by an all-powerful AI named Talis. Talis is really just trying to save the world. He’s trying to stop people from polluting and destroying the world and he’s trying to keep world peace an everyday reality. He does this by taking the children of all the world leaders and putting them in his Preceptures. If a nation declares war on another, they do so knowing that they just condemned their child to death. Well that’s motivating. It may sound cruel, but I truly think that Talis is trying to help. And I’m very interested to learn more about him in the next book.


One of my favorite things about this book was the politics. Erin Bow does a fantastic job of giving us an overview of the world and how the political game is played. Water is a really big issue in this world. There’s not enough of it and it’s the number one reason why nations sacrifice their children and go to war. I loved all the political talk. There’s not a lot of action in this book and if that’s what you’re looking for, then this may not be for you. I can see how some people would find it slow, but I was so engrossed in all the tiny details that were going on, I didn’t care about the lack of high action. The politics kept me hooked.


Our main character, Greta, is a princess. A smart, beautiful, brilliant princess. She’s the leader of her little group of friends. People look up to her. And I could see why. She carries herself with such a regal air. She’s calm in the face of death and she looks out for the best interests of the group. But all that changes when Elian shows up. Elian isn’t like the others. He doesn’t take his fate quietly with a cup of tea. He fights, he talks back to the AI’s that run their school. He’s not going to go down quietly. Greta is drawn to this boy and his radical ideas, but their nations are at the brink of war, which means both of them will likely die soon.


There’s a little bit of a love triangle here, but it became clear who the winner was. And it wasn’t really a love triangle because I believe that Greta loves both of them, but loves one in a different way. The main romance was incredible though. Unexpected and perfect, it gave me all the feels.


And the ending was epic. The decision that Greta has to make is so intense and literally brought me to tears. Tears were running down my face during the last 50 pages of the book. There’s a lot of self-sacrifice and themes of humanity throughout and it really begs the question, what makes someone human? This book will definitely stick with me for a long time. If you’re looking for a really unique science fiction/dystopian novel, then I highly recommend this book. I can’t wait to see where Erin Bow takes the story next!


Have you read this one yet? What did you think? Did you fall into the love it or hate it category? 

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7 responses to “Review: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

  1. Oh man!!! I LOVE this premise! I feel like I saw a Star Trek episode that was almost sort of like this when I was a kid, but this is just a fantastic set up for revolution and man vs. machine…not to mention royalty gone rogue. So glad to hear that you loved it…it does seem to be a polarizing book XD

    • Judy Perry

      You are correct about the Star Trek comparison – the episode was called “A Taste of Armageddon”. Just when you think there may be an original story line turns out everything old is new again. In Star Trek two worlds are at war and in their minds try to keep relative peace by doing battle through math and machines and required citizens are put into disintegration chambers. The crew of the enterprise becomes part of this ‘non-combative war” so Kirk decides to destroy the machines, making the two worlds decide between facing the real ravages of war or enter into negotiations for peace. While there may be some differences in the intricacies of the plot, overall the theme is similar. Wonder if there is a law suit pending just like songs who are accused of being copied? LOL

  2. There was a lot I liked about the book, the concept, the politics, how quiet and introspective it was, but the characters fell a bit flat for me for some reason. I looked back at my review and I wrote that I wasn't sure how I felt about the ending, and sadly, now I don't remember what the ending was. Contact me and remind me?? Also, I think there's a companion novel coming so I'll be curious to read it. I did like it, I just wasn't feeling all the feels if you know what I mean. Have you read Never Let Me Go? It's not dystopian or anything but it's got kids living together and sort of just accepting their horrible fate. A book that makes you think, which is what this book did for me too. Great review! ~Pam

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