About The Book:
A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages. The Children of Peace – sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals – are raised together in small, isolated schools called Preceptures. There, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war.
Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is the pride of the North American Prefecture. Learned and disciplined, Greta is proud of her role in keeping the global peace, even though, with her country controlling two-thirds of the world’s most war-worthy resource — water — she has little chance of reaching adulthood alive.
Enter Elián Palnik, the Prefecture’s newest hostage and biggest problem. Greta’s world begins to tilt the moment she sees Elián dragged into the school in chains. The Prefecture’s insidious surveillance, its small punishments and rewards, can make no dent in Elián, who is not interested in dignity and tradition, and doesn’t even accept the right of the UN to keep hostages.
What will happen to Elián and Greta as their two nations inch closer to war?
Oh, how excited I was for The Scorpion Rules! It had everything I could want in a novel–romance, political intrigue, a beloved author, and a brilliant concept. I was ready to love it!
But I didn’t.
I had very high expectations for The Scorpion Rules. I love the concept of this novel. In the past, countries have done an exchange of hostages. One country would send the a royal child to another country, and vice versa. This is to ensure that the countries wouldn’t attack each other because if they did, their prince or princess would be the first to die. In The Scorpion Rules, this tradition has been brought back by Talis, the artificial intelligence system that has taken over the world.
I adore that concept, but the actual execution let me down. I had expected the book to be full of fantastic battle scenes and loads of political intrigue but that didn’t really happen. Instead, the hostages spent more time gardening, and raising goats in their prison rather than fighting wars. There was more action in the last half of the book, but it still didn’t make up for the mediocre beginning.
In the world of The Scorpion Rules, the earth is ruled by an artificial intelligence system called Talis, who can inhabit the bodies of his servants. He is the one who brought back the exchange of hostages. All of the countries in the world obey him but when they break the rules, the consequences are severe, like having a city blown up. Maybe it was just me, but I thought that a lot was unexplained here. How did he rise to power? Why do so few people try to stop him? Why does one child keep nations from attacking? In the story, Talis came across as a jokester who doesn’t take anything seriously. Why was everyone so afraid of him? It felt unrealistic.
I didn’t dislike Greta or the other people in this story, but I didn’t feel a lot of attachment to any of characters either. When terrible things happened, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat and when it came time for Greta to make big sacrifices, I didn’t find myself caring a whole lot about the outcome. She’s a good person and she’s wiling to sacrifice everything for her country, sure, but why? I didn’t learn a much about her history. Greta and the other characters felt underdeveloped to me.
I think that’s a good way to describe the story overall: underdeveloped. There was so much promise in The Scorpion Rules, but too much went unexplained, and the concept wasn’t executed as I expected. I wasn’t invested in the story as a whole. That said, Erin Bow’s writing is vivid and descriptive. The Scorpion Rules didn’t work for me, but I’m still willing to check out her other books in the future.