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The Scorpion Rules: Prisoners of Peace    by Erin Bow order for
Scorpion Rules
by Erin Bow
Order:  USA  Can
Margaret K. McElderry, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Erin Bow's The Scorpion Rules is a YA dystopian with quite a difference. In this intriguing future, mass migrations caused a series of regional wars after the ice caps melted. A powerful Artificial Intelligence named Talis used its orbital weapons to blow up cities and take control. His first rule to stopping wars is to 'make it personal.' He now requires that every world leader give a child to be held hostage. When realms come into conflict, those children are killed.

Crown Princess Greta is such a hostage, a Child of Peace, held with the other children since age five. If she survives to age eighteen, she will be free. Greta is the beloved daughter of the queen of the Pan Polar Confederacy (a superpower evolved from what is now Canada). As the novel opens, Greta's country is on the brink of war, when the children see dust on the horizon and are terrified - this news might end a life. Though it's not Greta's turn this time, she mourns for the friend who is taken.

Greta is a leader amongst the Children of Peace and her closest friend is Da-Xia, heiress to central Asia. So when a new hostage arrives, they try to help in any way they can. But Elian is 'from a new state called the Cumberland Alliance.' He was not raised as a hostage and is not resigned to his fate. He fights back and tries to escape, resulting in problems for the Children (who are all punished for any transgression) and a great deal of pain for himself. Elian and Greta talk and become close, though they usually disagree.

When conflict grows between their countries, they are devastated - will one of them die? But then the unexpected happens, straining loyalties to the limit. After Talis himself intervenes, Greta has a very hard choice to make. The love story here is just as unusual as the dystopian premise. Don't miss The Scorpion Rules - highly recommended!

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