# of Pages: 374
Time it took me to read: 5 days
# of pages a day to finish in a week: 54
Rating: 3 out of 5
Greta has lived her whole life knowing that she will probably die for her country. When the world was torn to pieces by the War Storms, Talis, a form of artificial intelligence that was once a man, stopped humans slaughtering each other by decreeing that the leader of every nation on earth must submit a child to be held hostage. These child hostages would be kept safe on the condition that their parents not set their countries to war. It is not always easy, however, and during her life as a hostage, Greta has seen many children taken away to die for the sins of their parents. She accepts it. Until a new hostage arrives and teaches her that she has a choice. And it is at this time that Greta understands that she has the power to make a change.
This book really stumped me. I honestly feel as if I both do and don’t have a lot to say about it. I spent the first half of the book really thinking I knew what it was going to be about. The blurb and the beginning of the book really painted the story as a political intrigue novel, and Greta is surrounded by a delightfully diverse and enjoyable cast of fellow “Children of Peace” (read: hostages). Greta is a strong-willed, intelligent character, but fairly oblivious to the human condition.
I’ve read quite a wide variety of dystopia in my day, ranging from The Hunger Games to Divergent, all the way to zombie stories. I thoroughly enjoy the genre and think that it’s rising popularity is fascinating when you consider how frightening our world has become in the last fifteen years or so. But that is an entirely different conversation.
What I have always liked about dystopia (which is defined as a post-apocalyptic story that often explores a wide range of subjects such as political systems, disease, technology, etc.) is that despite taking place in a world that is very alien from our own, we are able to relate to the characters through shared humanity. For example, feeling empathy when a character makes a decision in a situation that you feel you would make if in their shoes, or sympathy when a character has something happen to them that you may not be able to directly understand, but that character’s emotions are familiar enough that you feel for them.
Interestingly enough, Greta goes through a similar transformation to Nemesis from last week’s The Diabolic. Greta, however, goes down a path that was, really, impossible to foresee and sort of the polar opposite of Nemesis.
Okay, I really don’t want to give anything away to folks out there who’d like to give this book a shot, so I’ll stray away from spoilers and move toward giving a more abstract review of the book. I really enjoyed the setup of this world, and I felt as though I understood it very well without feeling like Erin Bow had to over-explain it to me. As I said before, my favorite characters were Greta’s fellow hostages, who were all so three dimensional as characters and who had such strong and captivating personalities. The pace of the book was also very nice, and it was not so slow to start as other books I’ve read recently.
However, try as I may, there is no such thing as an unbiased book review. I gave this book 3 out of 5, because though there were aspects of this book I very much enjoyed, and can respect that this book overall was well researched and well written, by the end, I did not like it. I really had to think, and was really frustrated and confused as to why I was feeling the way that I was. And though this may be a disappointing answer, I think it’s purely a matter of taste. I don’t like the direction the author took with this story (and with the first 150 pages or so, there were a lot of directions she could have taken it). I think that she probably took the most interesting turn that she could have, and I’ve looked online and read mountains of praise on it. But I cannot entirely add to that praise.
The most telling thing for me, at least, is that the sequel is available right now…and I don’t think that the ending interested me enough to read it. That, and I think that most of the secondary characters that I loved so much will not be as involved in the sequel. So that’s a real downside for me.
To wrap this thing up: if you like dystopia, there is a very good chance you’ll like this book. It’s well written and intelligent, and the characters are, for the most part, dynamic and interesting. However, my favorite thing about this genre is, like I said, finding the relatable humanity in an alien world, and the protagonist just does not have that relatable quality that I like. So this book gets a 3 out of 5, out of personal respect for the quality of this book, but loses points based on totally personal reasons.
If you liked The Scorpion Rules, try:
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Uglies by Scott Westerfield
The Maze Runner by James Dashner