Review of The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

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Non-formulaic, diverse, vaguely dystopian YA novel!!!!!!!!! I didn’t even mind the love triangle because it wasn’t really a love triangle at all!!! GOD, THIS WAS GREAT.

Ok, the first thing I need to say is that I LOVED Greta, the narrator and protagonist. The main reason for this is that she. was. dutiful. and. responsible. The entire novel is about her willingness to die for and be useful to the ~tyrannical system~ because she knows it generally works to keep the peace. This is so much preferable to any number of other privileged (yeah, Greta is a hostage, but she’s a princess and future world leader, so yes she’s PRIVILEGED) YA protagonists who push the envelope because instalove or because they don’t want to put their brilliant tactical minds to work for their nation and would for no good reason rather study music, even though they obviously LOVE TACTICS AND PROBLEM-SOLVING (*cough cough pointed barb at a series I hated*).

The other characters are also fantastic, especially Xie, Elias, and Talis (they’re the most well-fleshed out besides Greta herself), but also the Abbot (a surprisingly complex secondary AI character), and the other Children of Peace. I won’t spoil anything here, because Bow really pulls the rug out from under the back-of-book summary (*cackle*), but I particularly loved Xie.

I also really enjoyed the world-building and the grittiness that permeated the entire novel. After the first fifty pages or so I knew this wouldn’t be a neatly packaged YA narrative with a smooth ending. Thank God. Wow, and there were like….adults in active roles in here too! Amazing! (Sorry, I read a ton of mediocre YA this year)

And someone, please, make me stop reading and watching things about AI this year. xoxo

~Allison Senecal

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