Title: Scorpion Rules
Author: Erin Bow
Series: Prisoners of Peace #1
Genre: Teen Dystopian
Rating: 2/5 stars
The Overview: 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. -Goodreads
My opinion of Scorpion Rules went on a roller coaster ride while I was reading it, landing on a solid 2 (it was just okay) rating when all was said and done.
Let’s start with what I liked about it:
Scorpion Rules offered an interesting concept – keeping the world’s leaders in line by holding their children hostage. It offered a good bit of drama right up front and kept me reading when I wasn’t sure about everything else.
And that’s about it. Everything else was just okay.
The writing had its moments, as the scenes that were really good were edge-of-your-seat riveting. But overall, the book suffered from poor pacing, too many info dumps, and an unusually heavy focused on goats and their mating habits (you heard me). There was a lot of promise with very few moments of delivery, and I can’t help but wonder how much better it could’ve been had the two novels been written more concisely and combined into one (a working theory, considering I haven’t read the second book).
Poor pacing aside, there were two glaring issues which cause me to DNF this series after book 1: the odd direction the story took and the unbelievable villain. The entire second half of the novel revolved around the AI who initially took control of the world and held these kids hostage (as we learned about in the killer prologue). When we finally met him, though, the story took on a slightly ridiculous undertone. The villain was incredibly theatrical and flippant which I found totally implausible. Considering the whole children-as-hostages and potential political intrigue that first drew me to the story, I thought the focus on AIs (which was much heavier near the end of the book) was an unsatisfying direction for the story to take. It felt like a promise undelivered. I also take issue with the author’s interpretation of Artificial Intelligence… to me, that indicates a thinking entity manually fabricated, which takes on a life of its own. In this case, the authors AIs are essentially preserved and uploaded intelligences of actual people. Which also seemed odd to me because they somehow maintained their personalities and “humanism,” if you will. I think I’ve read too many excellent novels of this variety to buy into this author’s version.
Overall, I don’t see myself recommending Scorpion Rules anytime soon, but many of the issues I had with it were a personal preference issues. I’d be the first to admit that I was very hypercritical of it, and I think that came from having high expectations going in. I know a few people who absolutely loved this series, it just didn’t work for me and I will not be picking up the second one.
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