Review: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow (Prisoners of Peace #1)


The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow // VBC ReviewThe Scorpion Rules (Prisoners of Peace #1)
Erin Bow
Published: Sept. 22, 2015 (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review Source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 2.5 stars

After the world goes through a climate shift the entirety of the earth’s landscape changed. Of course this caused displacement within the population and often when people are trying to survive where else do they lash out but at each other. The world was on the brink of complete extinction. So enter Talis, an AI created by the UN at the start of the War Storms, but as any who’s watched or read sci-fi knows, it’s rare when an AI stays in a role of complacency. So Talis takes it upon himself to solve this problem. The solution: blowing up cities. More specifically, first stop the fighting by any means possible. Next, set up a system to keep the peace.

To ensure peace is indeed kept, each nation’s leaders have to give up their children to be held “captive.” Whenever a respective leader decides to go to war, their child dies. And this is the way things have been for 400 years.

Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is one such hostage. For all accounts and purposes she’s been an exemplary hostage. When Elián Palnik arrives as the newest hostage for the Cumberland Alliance, Greta knows her time left alive may be short lived. For months there have been rumors of a war brewing between the Pan-Polar and the Cumberland Alliance. Greta is ready to die with grace as all hostages are taught, but something about Elián makes Greta wonder if he knows more about the war. For the first time since she became a hostage, Greta’s eyes are opening.

There are bits and pieces of passages written really well with beautiful imagery in The Scorpion Rules. The idea behind everything and where the characters ultimately ended up, Ill admit, was pretty interesting. I just think these really strong moments got jumbled and overshadowed with a lot of scenes that tried too hard to be profound and ended up being foggy and disjointed.

Specifically what didn’t work for me was Greta as narrator. I didn’t understand what was so special about Greta. She is exactly what the Preceptor (the complex where the hostages live) makes her, never going against the authority, yet everyone looks to her to make a stand. There are a lot of references throughout the book about “waking up”, and that’s why I feel like Greta’s ‘voice’ is so disjointed, she hasn’t really opened her eyes to her circumstances. Ever. She doesn’t really even open her eyes until closer to the end, and by that time, I had lost any investment into connecting with her character.

Talis, who is by far one of the more interesting characters in the story, is completely underutilized. I loved his penchant for inserting movie quotes in his myriad of quirky dialogue. However, what we see of Talis is just surface. Greta has no basis to understand Talis’s inner working so from her point of view, his actions just seem flamboyantly dramatic.

The ending was truly an awakening, of sorts, to the point where I feel like this first book is just filler and set-up for further adventures for Greta. If the series continues on, I may pick up the next one just to see what direction Erin Bow takes next, but if it’s in the same vein as The Scorpion Rules I would be quick to put it down again.

Sexual content: kissing, references to sex

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