Summary: Greta is a crown princess—and a hostage to peace, held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. Greta and the other royal hostages are Talis’s strategy to keep the peace: if her country enters a war, Greta dies. Greta will be free if she can make it to her eighteenth birthday. Until then she is prepared to die with dignity, if necessary. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives, a boy who refuses to play by the rules and opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system and to her own power.
The Scorpion Rules is a perfect balance of [believable] sci-fi and dystopian society. This is a YA novel, aimed at readers ages 14 & up. Parents and educators should be aware of on-page sex, violence, possibly disturbing scenes, and mature language (ranging from "hell" to the f-bomb).
Most dystopian novels follow this formula: the corrupt "system" emerges after a long war and is maintained with violence. The protagonist has never felt loyal to the system and spends the book trying to hide his/her differences, while rebelling against it. While this is happening, there is a love triangle. Sounds like 95% of dystopian novels today, right? So I was surprised when The Scorpion Rules suddenly diverged from the formula that I was positive it was following. Surprised, but pleased, I should note. [[spoiler ahead]] The protagonist, who I was sure was going to fall for the "new boy," actually ends up in a sexual and romantic relationship with her best female friend. A break from the love triangle at last!
The Scorpion Rules finally gives the tired dystopian genre a story that is both fresh and that has real substance and merit to young adult readers. It is a beautiful love story, a tale of friendships and alliances, of murder and violence, of humanity vs. technology, of power and peace, and ultimately, good vs. evil.
Erin Bow's writing, as always, is powerful and poetic. The Scorpion Rules is perfect for teen readers looking for their next dystopian/thriller fix.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending me an ARC for review.