Sunday, September 20, 2015

Review: The Scorpion Rules

Title: The Scorpion Rules
Author: Erin Bow
Series: Prisoners of Peace
Volume: 1
Genre: dystopia, post-apocalyptic, science fiction

A Quick Introduction: When wars brought on by the changing climate ravaged the world, world leaders agreed to send their children has hostages. If countries go to war, the hostages from all involved parties die. Greta is the Princess of the Pan-Polar Federation, which holds 2/3 of the world's available drinking water- the question isn't so much if she'll die, but when. Despite this, she's proud of her role in keeping the peace- until her view of the world is shaken to its core.

Out of Ten: 7/10

Review at a Glance: An intriguing dystopia with a fascinating premise, which stumbles slightly with character relationships and plot.

Review: This was such a hard book for me to rate. I've been finished it for a bit now, and I'm still not quite sure how to review it. You see, there were things that I liked a lot, and there were things that I didn't like at all. But I'm giving this a try.

I found the concept fascinating. In my life outside of this blog, I'm an environmental science major, and we talk about climate wars a lot, so that aspect felt all too plausible to me. This book starts off with a narration by Talis, and AI that has taken over the world. In his defense, he says, he did if four our own good. We were facing extinction. If he had to blow up a few cities along the way, well, you've got to break a few eggs to make and omelet, right? The result is a very different dystopia than is common in YA. Its a world where, despite the methods of their inhuman, totalitarian ruler, his strategies really are probably the only thing standing between human societies and complete collapse.

Moving right on to characters. Greta is a very passively strong character. I don't know any other way to say it. She is willing to accept that she will die, in order to preserve the peace of her world. Whether it is right or not isn't the question, but I don't think it weak. She's a very... internal... person, in a lot of ways. Da-Xie was a character I had the most trouble believing in- there was just something about her that felt unreal until a significant way through the book (after I'd managed to forget about her backstory a little bit, actually... it felt kind of contrived). I enjoyed the glimpses we got of the supporting cast, though they were too sparse for me to really form any attachment.

What I didn't love was the weakness of most of the character relationships. I found I somehow didn't care about just about any of the relationships that Greta had with most other people. They just fell flat for me as a result. Its as though she talks about caring about people, but doesn't actually feel it. I'm still unable to put my finger on exactly why this seemed so dull to me... It was something that ended up detracting from my reading experience. I found myself wishing that we could just get back to the plot, already.

The plot was not what one would call "fast-paced." It is, in fact, the opposite of that, and there are several different things going on. Greta has a lot to come to terms with, and choices to make, while the world outside has its issues. The way the story was delivered was the other thing that didn't quite hit me most of the time, possibly with the exception of Greta's decision.

This book did, however appeal to me in terms of humour. I really enjoyed Greta's internal monologue, as well as her interactions with Talis, who is... truly strange. Amoral, maybe, but occasionally quite amusing, especially when played off of Greta's more deadpan sense of humour.

Overall, I think I would say that I enjoyed The Scorpion Rules, it really only stumbled a terms of character relationships and some of the plotting of the novel. I'm looking forward to seeing how Greta's story finishes.

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