Wednesday, April 26, 2017

[Review] The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Series: Prisoners of Peace #1
 Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 2 stars

Published: September 22nd 2015

Goodreads Synopsis:
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. 
Goats - the shapers of history.
That, my friends, is what most of the book is made up of. Goats. Not that I don't like goats, but it says a lot if there was more goat mentioning that say, actual character development. 

Conceptually, this story sounds really cool. For the first chapter, I was reeled in. Children of rulers taken as hostages and killed if their country enters a war? AI's running the world? Count me in. It's something different from the other dystopia novels I've read. 

But it wasn't executed the way I hoped. There's Greta, our main character and one of the seven hostages being held in the Prefecture. There's Xie, another hostage and one of Greta's love interests. When their friend Sidney gets killed by the Swan Riders, who do the killing of hostages when countries declare war, Elian comes in his place, as the hostage of the newly formed kingdom of Cumberland. Elian is rebellious when Greta is obedient - but the two of them learn much from each other.

Or well, they try to. And I try to, as well. I try to learn at least more of what makes these characters tick, but alas! I can't find it. The characters aren't as developed as I would have liked. We have a ton of hostages but I don't know much about them. They're just there. And the love triangle romance between Elian-Greta-Xie is so bland and lacking that it is practically nonexistent. 

There are a lot of goats, though. Goats are pretty alright.

The villain, Talis, who is the head of the UN and also a snarky AI, was perhaps the saving grace. It was weird to picture someone who can both crack jokes but also just destroy entire cities with a touch of a button. 

"Once there was a boy," he said, as if to himself, "named Michael." And then his face did another flip-shift, as if his mind had been wiped blank and another mind installed. He popped to his feet, struck a fencer's wide-leg stance, and stuck out his hand for me. "Join me, Greta, and we shall rule the galaxy as father and son!"

To knock it off, the ending. What kind of ending was that? Not that I'm expecting a happy ending in a dystopic novel, but it felt incomplete. The I'm-not-sure-what-happened kind of incomplete. Shouldn't I be feeling something? I couldn't connect to the characters nor felt any interest in the plot halfway through the novel, so there wasn't much feeling to be had. 

I wish I could have liked this book more, but once more, dystopia just ends up being a genre no longer my taste. 

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