Nafiza Recommends: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

This is so far away from a review that I’m going to link to Nafiza’s Actually Well-Thought-Out Non-Spoiler-y Review

… so you can read that if you were looking for a post that isn’t just me crying, okay?

For those of you who need a refresher, or just don’t care about spoilers, read on! For those who do care about spoilers, what are you doing, I’ve used the word spoilers four times now, turn back, turn back! Just once more for luck: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

the-scorpion-rules-by-erin-bowGreta is a Duchess and a Crown Princess. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Start a war and your hostage dies. The system has worked for centuries. Parents don’t want to see their children murdered.

Greta will be free if she can make it to her eighteenth birthday. Until then she is prepared to die with dignity, if necessary. But everything changes when Elian arrives at the Precepture. He’s a hostage from a new American alliance, and he defies the machines that control every part of their lives—and is severely punished for it. His rebellion opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the rules they live under, and to the subtle resistance of her companions. And Greta discovers her own quiet power … — [X]

  • I am seriously re-considering what I do in the name of friendship. The only satisfaction I get is knowing that I definitely upset Nafiza with my recommendation for her, so let’s move on.
  • Firstly, the world-building, because wow, it is so meticulous! If that’s what you love most about post-apocalyptic stories, definitely pick The Scorpion Rules one up. The thing about the book is that it often feels like I’m reading historical fiction rather than science-fiction.
  • For instance: Talis, the megalomaniac who runs the world, goes by a lot of Old School names and his rules are only hilarious because of their light-hearted, colloquial tone. It’s interesting how language is all it takes for me–and apparently quite a few fans, according to Erin Bow–to temporarily forget that Talis is responsible for multiple genocides.
  • Wait, is it still genocide if, technically, you’re not the last of your people, but you and your entire city was vaporized? Hm.
  • He really does have a charming tone, as evidenced in the prologue: “Once upon a time, humans were killing each other so fast that total extinction was looking possible, and it was my job to stop them. Well, I say “my job.” I sort of took it upon myself … I guess that surprised people. I don’t know how it surprised people–I mean, if they’d been paying the slightest bit of attention they’d have known that AIs have this built-in tendency to take over the world. Did we learning nothing from The Terminator, people?”
  • So, Talis sets up this world-order and these kids–as is the case IRL–have to deal with it. Honestly, not since Buffy, did I love a story so much for placing unrealistically large responsibilities on the shoulders of teenagers and actually have them be incredibly good at their jobs.
  • And not just in a Wow Greta Does Everything Perfectly All The Time, but in a way that reveals the character’s flaws, while simultaneously pointing to a weakness in the a system, a chink in the armour, an angle that can be manipulated.
  • Since we’ve already started talking about characters, I may as well fangirl about Greta. She’s my favourite. I mean, yes, Xie is awesome too–girl has the kind of calm and courage that makes you want to be her–but watching Greta move from being a part of the system to someone who stands apart from the system–ha ha–was incredibly fun and agonizing in turns. Agonizing because the book, despite taking place on a secret goat farm, is stressful to read.
  • I also love Greta and Xie’s relationship, how it began, how it progressed, and how it continues to affect Greta even after they have to split.
  • Um, yes, I died at the end.
  • This is a ghost writing her ramblings. (╭╮)
  • Speaking of death, um, GREGO!
  • Poor.
  • Sweet.
  • Precious.
  • GREGO!
  • It’s like if Ngozi killed off Dex in Check, Please! *gasp* No. I can’t even go there.
  • From a less emotional standpoint, I am kind of astounded that The Big Death wasn’t the one I thought it would be.
  • You know what’s kinda funny? The main characters deaths (or in Greta’s case “deaths”) are both white people? *weeping* THANDI MADE IT OUT ALIVE YOU GUYS!
  • *ahem* I’m sure Han will, eventually, be somewhat okay … but I had to stop myself from only think about what happens to Han because Grego died. There are still many things that can hurt Han and still many things that Han is capable of overcoming. It’s an impulse I’m working on, immediately worrying for love interests. I haven’t decided if this is a normal impulse, or … ?
  • Anyway, it’s a brilliant book that is so brilliantly executed, I have no complaints.
  • Except that I felt too many emotions and can I please feel a little less, thanks?
  • (Yes, I see how that’s ironic considering what happens to Greta. Stop looking at me like that, Nafiza.)