Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: The Swan Riders

Publish December 1, 2016

As this is the second book in a series, the following review contains spoilers. In Swan Riders, the follow up to Erin Bow’s award-winning The Scorpion Rules, Greta faces the very real danger of skinning, meaning her mind could lose her humanity and sanity in the process of adjusting to her new AI existence. While she is guided by Talis, the Earth’s AI overlord, a journey to his headquarters is fraught with complications as even he underestimates the powerful reaction Greta’s torture and rebirth as an AI inspires. Greta is quickly confronted with the realisation the system Talis uses to ensure peace has serious flaws. As in her first Prisoners of Peace novel, Bow continues to tackle philosophical themes, this time exploring what it means to be human, and the role/importance of a flesh and blood body. Bow’s intelligent prose highlights the internal struggle of the Swan Riders as they strive to follow their ideals of helping others, while also being required to kill children and to give up their bodies for Talis to possess as needed. Greta’s growing awareness of such idealism in the face of a dark reality and her unique position as a new AI allow her to be an instigator of change, but at a terrible cost for those around her.   Throughout a tense expedition filled with plot twists, Greta is once again backed by truly memorable characters – some familiar like Talis, and some new like Swan Rider Francis Xavier. As the fragility of the human experience reveals itself under unusual circumstances, the question of what we need to hold onto to still consider ourselves human is not an easy one for Greta to answer.

The Swan Riders

Erin Bow
Margaret K. McElderry Books: Simon and Schuster Canada
ISBN 13: 978-1-481-442-749