The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Prisoners of Peace #1
Read by Madeleine Maby
The world is at peace, said the Utterances. And really, if the odd princess has a hard day, is that too much to ask?
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.
I was hoping to have the second book in this series done in time for this blog post, but it just wasn’t meant to be. So come back next week for my review of that book.
I love the premise of this book, a future earth where an Artificial Intelligence has taken control, more or less. Let’s just say that Talis controls the peace in this future. He holds the world leader’s children hostage, and if any country goes to war, the children’s lives are forfeit. The children are more or less well treated, though not like the royalty that they are. Their school, is pretty bleak, and they are expected to help with the farming and other chores that keep the school running. They are however well educated. They are constantly watched as well, by the AI’s that run the school, and they are punished for any infractions, including talking about things they shouldn’t.
Greta is a great character. She is smart and knows how to play the political games that is her life well. When one country threatens hers, she has no doubt that a Swan Rider, will show up to kill her. The book is told solely from her point of view, which makes it that much more powerful. Elian is also a great character. Because he has not grown up in the Precepture, (his grandmother only recently attained power) he doesn’t know how to act or hide his emotions as well as the others. This gets him and the other children into some difficult situations. Finally I really like Zie, Greta’s roommate. She is definitely a force to be reckoned with and will make a great leader of her country, if she lives to eighteen.
What happens to Greta in the end is a bit confusing, and I’m not really sure how the technology is used to her advantage. I am very much looking forward to listening to what happens to her in the next book.
I have mixed feelings about the audio version. Madeleine Maby has a good voice, but often I felt that the emotional context behind the words wasn’t there in her voice. This bothered me a lot at first, but eventually I came to realize that it made sense within the plot of the story. Much of the dialogue between the students is very robotic and unemotional, I think due to the nature of how and where they live. Madeleine does a great job of conveying this with her voice. I just makes it a little hard to listen to. Give the audio version a chance though, it does grow on you.