The Scorpion Rules

by Erin Bow

Almost 18, Greta, Duchess of Halifax, will soon be released from the Precepture where... read more

Almost 18, Greta, Duchess of Halifax, will soon be released from the Precepture where she has lived since she was six. Like her companions, Greta is the child of a world leader, held hostage as a deterrent to war. If any nation or region acts with hostility toward another, the child of its leader is sacrificed. Refusing to abide by the rules means one of its cities will be obliterated by Talis, the Artificial Intelligence that conceived the peacekeeping system. Greta and her friends from other countries have been groomed to accept that their lives always hang in balance. Teenage Elian, a new hostage from a rising power in the American south, has not. He is repeatedly punished for his resistance by the Abbott. Like Talis, the Abbott is Artificial Intelligence. He’s also always been kind to Greta, and the cruelty takes her by surprise. The invasion of troops from Elian’s region led by his grandmother, a general determined to free her grandson and get water rights to Greta’s homeland, and the arrival of Talis, who has no intention of relinquishing control, sets the stage for a tense standoff in which Greta and the others, awakened to new possibilities, refuse to be pawns. A satisfying, complex story poses big questions about self-determination and sacrifice and the things that make us human. There is a love story here, too—two of them, as Greta tries to untangle feelings she has for both Elian and her roommate, Da-Xia. All of the characters, including Talis, are multifaceted, full of both strength and poignancy. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2016

show less