STARRED REVIEW
September 22, 2015

The cost of war

By Erin Bow

Centuries in the future, after humans have decimated the Earth’s population with war and pestilence, artificial intelligence (AI) is fed up and has taken control of the planet. Talis, Earth’s AI ruler, has proposed a sinister plan to keep warring nations at peace: Each nation must provide a royal child as a hostage. If the child’s country goes to war, the child dies.

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Centuries in the future, after humans have decimated the Earth’s population with war and pestilence, artificial intelligence (AI) is fed up and has taken control of the planet. Talis, Earth’s AI ruler, has proposed a sinister plan to keep warring nations at peace: Each nation must provide a royal child as a hostage. If the child’s country goes to war, the child dies.

Greta is the 16-year-old Duchess of Halifax. She’s been a hostage since she was 5 years old and is the unofficial leader of the other teen hostages. Educated and stoic, Greta is prepared to go to her death with dignity—until she meets Elian, a hostage from an enemy nation. Elian is gutsy and reckless, and his actions put Greta and the other royal teens at risk for painful punishments. Despite their enemy status, Greta and Elian form a bond. But when war is on the horizon and the royals are attacked, will Elian and Greta be on the same side?

Thoughtful and intriguing, though with a slow build-up, The Scorpion Rules is a morality tale cloaked in science fiction. In the spirit of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, Erin Bow explores whether humans will ever cease destruction of the planet, when having their children taken hostage is not enough of a deterrent to maintain peace. In doing so, she introduces readers to the snarky and memorable Talis, the AI overlord who sees humans as fallible creatures with no moral compass.

 

Kimberly Giarratano is the author of Grunge Gods and Graveyards, a young adult paranormal mystery.

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The Scorpion Rules

The Scorpion Rules

By Erin Bow
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 9781481442718

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