Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: The Scorpion Rules

Publish November 26, 2015

In a post-apocalyptic future, the world is controlled by a snarky artificial intelligence, Talis, that enforces peace between nations by holding a child from each ruler hostage, but if a country goes to war, its hostage dies. Sixteen-year-old Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy, has been a model hostage since age five, living and working with the children of other world leaders on a commune in rural Saskatchewan. If necessary, she intends to be executed with dignity, but in case she survives until she is eighteen, she is also preparing herself to someday govern her country. However, the arrival of rebellious new hostage Elián and the growing tension between his country and hers, force Greta to question everything she thought she had already accepted about her life and her world. Erin Bow’s The Scorpion Rules takes the popular dystopian genre and upends all its tropes by having her characters think and act in completely unexpected ways. Greta’s narrative is almost too cool and composed to connect with readers until it becomes painfully obvious that detachment is the only way she can cope with the constant threat of execution. Elián accuses her of stoicism, but Greta’s aloofness disappears for good after she breaks down during her public torture. Her love interest is not the predictably handsome Elián, but her longtime roommate and fellow hostage, Xie. Talis is a fascinating villain and one of the most engaging characters in the book, even as he tortures and kills those who disobey him. With an intriguing premise, a cast of sexually and ethnically diverse characters, and no clear distinction between “good” and “evil,” The Scorpion Rules is a thought-provoking addition to this genre.

The Scorpion Rules

Erin Bow
Simon & Schuster Canada
ISBN 13: 978-1-4814-4271-8

Roseanne Gauthier
Roseanne Gauthier

Roseanne Gauthier is the Youth Services Librarian for the Prince Edward Island (PEI) Public Library Service, and is PEI's 2017 award-winning 'Champion of Reading'. She has worked in the Faculties of Education at both the University of Prince Edward Island and Mount Saint Vincent University and spent two amazing years as the Children’s Librarian at the Confederation Centre Public Library. She holds an MLIS from Dalhousie University, and an MA from the University of Waterloo. Roseanne lives in Charlottetown, PEI with her husband, their adorable daughter, and two tuxedo cats.

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