The Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow is a tale set in the future of our world. The Earth's resources have dwindled to the point where warfare could be needed just to insure your people have enough water to survive. Enter an Artificial Intelligence that claims the orbiting nuclear systems, but unlike Terminator's Skynet, this computer wishes to enforce his power in order to save the humans from themselves.
One of the primary methods the AI uses to save humanity from itself is to reestablish the medieval tradition of taking the children of the world's rulers and holding them hostage to help insure their parents avoid declaring war on each other. If they do... their child is put to death.
Greta is a Princess of the Pan-Polar alliance. She only has a few months to go before she will turn eighteen and be allowed to return home. However she fears she will not make it for the Cumberland is thirsty and about to declare war against her mother's lands. That is when the child of Cumberland shows up to complicate matters.
Greta and her friends set off to save the boy from his own self distractive tendencies and for the first time Greta feels her sexuality stirring, but not just for the new teen, but also her beautiful roommate Xie. The novel becomes an anxious delicate dance of the doomed, on multiple accounts, relationships of these teens while near certain death hangs over Greta.
For a YA book, The Scorpion Rules is very dark and brooding and I have read a lot of dark YA novels. If you have a quiet sulking female teen that focuses on the darkness that often owns the world, this could be a the novel for her. Personally, I would have been better off having this be one of my read at work books, but unfortunately it was my last vacation's book. I found it too gloomy for my desert travels.
The Scorpion Rules is a powerful well-crafted book, but I found it a little to doom driven for my tastes. Bad things after bad things happen with little redemption. I would have given it a better score if it had not been such a downer. Maybe that is my personal issue, but life is hard enough without reading a book where the heroine is screwed over again and again and then yeah, again.
This could be a great book for those teens that think high school is going to be the worst thing that will ever happen to them. It packs a punch too. Also the teens seem like teens and not adults trying to be teens. Add this one as a possible gift for that goth girl on your shopping list.Michael D. Griffiths