Source: publisher via Netgalley. Thank you Margaret K. McElderry Books for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: YA post-apocalyptic sci-fi.
Greta is a duchess and crown princess—and a hostage to peace. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Go to war and your hostage dies.Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the
Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the Precepture school with the daughters and sons of the world’s leaders. Like them, she is taught to obey the machines that control their lives. Like them, she is prepared to die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives. Elián is a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. And he opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power
As Greta and Elián watch their nations tip closer to war, Greta becomes a target in a new kind of game. A game that will end up killing them both—unless she can find a way to break all the rules.
Going into books blind seems to be a theme lately. I recently reviewed Illuminae, a book where I knew absolutely nothing about the plot before I started reading it, and it really didn’t turn out all that well. I requested Scorpion Rules on Netgalley after I saw an author I admire call it fantastic and I also didn’t read anything about it before plunging straight in. I’m wondering now whether this is a good tactic – I liked this one okay but didn’t love it.
Scorpion Rules is the beginning of a post-apocalyptic series that’s different from others of such type I’ve had the (dis)pleasure to read. The premise is quite similar to Hunger Games or Divergent, with the world divided into new countries, the life conditions perilous, the political situation uncertain – but this time, the world is controlled by an artificial intelligence system which made peace by blasting several large cities off the world map until people started paying attention to it.
Now, children of the rulers of each of the world’s countries are taken (a person can’t rule a nation without having children) and they spend their time in camps, waiting to see if their illustrious parent will start a war. If this happens, the child is taken and executed for their parent’s sin.
When we meet Greta, she’s almost old enough to be released from this obligation, she’s living in the middle of a desert with other children of peace, trying to keep her head down, hoping her mother, the queen of one of the largest territories that also has large supplies of the most coveted resource: water, won’t start a war or enter one if attacked. That’s when Elián lands there, he’s the grandson of a general of a new country that borders Greta’s. He doesn’t know how to behave, is reckless and gets punished constantly by the robotic guards and instructors running the facility.
Now, you may be rolling your eyes at this, suspecting the plot is surely very predictable from here on out: the girl and the boy fall in love, he makes her see that fighting for the right cause is good, they run away together and fight for a better future for all humanity. Well, not quite. First of all, the love triangle (yes, there is one) here is much more interesting than usual, mostly because it involves a same-sex relationship without giving it labels and without making a fuss about it. I know coming-out stories are extremely important, that having openly gay characters deal with the problems in the society is necessary, but it’s also nice to see a relationship where being gay is… not extraordinary. Or rather, it’s nice to read a book where gender isn’t the deciding factor for choosing one’s partner.
Anyway, if you like post-apocalyptic sci-fi and you’re tired of angsty teenage stories, this is a good book to check out. I was a bit thrown by the ending (I can’t really see how the story will continue with things being as they are) and I thought the pacing was too slow at times – the tone is much more… contemplative than is usual for YA (not necessarily a bad thing, I just wished the story moved on faster because I wanted to know what would come next). These are the reasons for my lower rating – purely personal. So if the premise sounds interesting to you, give it a try, by all means, because it’s really nice to read something that deviates from the mould from time to time.
Have you read Scorpion Rules? What did you think?
Do you have any good postapocalyptic recs?
I’d love to hear from you!