We so rarely find ourselves in fiction, less in fiction that isn't about coming out, even less in fiction where we move, act, love, exist in all the dWe so rarely find ourselves in fiction, less in fiction that isn't about coming out, even less in fiction where we move, act, love, exist in all the dimensions that we have. The Scorpion Rules is a good book, an excellent book, but beyond that it inscribes woman/woman sexuality as something beautiful, pure, enormous and terrifying and good, all the things it really is and is so rarely allowed to be.
Greta is the daughter of a world power held hostage in hopes that the threat of her death will hold back the inevitable tide of war. She's one of many, the Children of Peace, who exist under the thumb of AI dictator. In summarizing, it would be easy to say, "Greta has never questioned her place in life until she meets a fiery young boy who challenges all her assumptions" and that would, technically, be true. But that makes the book sound rote and cheap and trite. The boy is the catalyst and the boy is a player, but Greta is a person who has been shaped by everyone around her, and her growth is her own.
Bow's prose is flawless, each sentence a perfect stroke, poetic yet sparse. Greta's peers are introduced fully-fleshed, and slowly unfolded into more and more developed characters, flawed and broken and resilient and amazing. Greta herself is a fascinating study in a narrator--sharp as a tack except when she's not, a keen politician with a little emotional intelligence.
The plot flows well, though it does lag a bit somewhere between page 50 and 100. It's a thematically strong book and, unlike nearly every other teen dystopia, the reasoning behind the dystopian future is valid, and the power structures make sense. I actually wouldn't call this book a dystopia at all, because while the governmental structure could easily be classified as such, the central themes and conflicts of the book are much more general.
I do have some few criticisms: the prologue is rough, and while Talis is a deeply effective antagonist, by turns threatening and vulnerable, human and artificial, his initial introduction comes across as a little corny. The use of the Panopticon is, perhaps, a bit on the nose, and while the big reactions and revelations are emotionally satisfying, there are a few shifts and scuttles that get lost in the noise. The book could've been quite a bit longer. It probably should've been at least slightly longer.
All that aside, though, The Scorpion Rules is so refreshing because, while the plot isn't unpredictable, it does go unexpected places. Perhaps what I appreciate most is Bow's ability to stick to her guns. If a character is threatened that threat comes to fruition. That's something of a rarity in fiction, YA especially. Or perhaps, what I appreciate most, is that rather than falling into the hyper-competitive myth that characterizes most fictional politically-fraught climes, The Children of Peace choose cooperation and solidarity. It's really a very beautiful message, when you think about it. The book itself is beautiful. Hard, but beautiful. I can't wait to own the actual release.
NOTE: There is graphic torture in this book; graphic not so much for the actual torture (it's relatively tame, if you can call torture that) but for the character's reaction to the torture. It is well-done and necessary, but something readers should be aware of....more
I love nearly everything about this story. I do wish Nina played more of a role, but I also love Tenma as a main character and his ability to inspireI love nearly everything about this story. I do wish Nina played more of a role, but I also love Tenma as a main character and his ability to inspire and uplift the people around him. What really strikes me about the story, though, is how masterfully Urasawa weaves together the horrifying and the mundane. Monster alternates between the intense thriller-mystery narrative of Tenma's quest for Johan and small slice-of-life narratives about ordinary, usually relatively decent, people. The complexity of the characters, the depth of storytelling, the philosophical force--this is one manga I would feel comfortable recommending to literally anyone....more
The volume starts slow, but by the last section I was absolutely enraptured. I do think the 2-volume repackage was a good choice, not just for marketiThe volume starts slow, but by the last section I was absolutely enraptured. I do think the 2-volume repackage was a good choice, not just for marketing (though the heavier, bigger shape makes these books feel More Serious) but narratively as well--the story is fast-paced and absorbing, and I think it works better with more content in less packaging....more
A solid title, where the art is probably the main draw. I like seeing batgirl like this, but I feel like this isn't going to be a title that ages wellA solid title, where the art is probably the main draw. I like seeing batgirl like this, but I feel like this isn't going to be a title that ages well--so much of the content is dependent on understanding cultural trends right now. Still, that isn't really a terrible thing, and the title is fun and engaging. I can't says I really recognized the Barbara Gordon I've grown to know in this one (though she did appear more toward the end). The title is also guilty of an incredibly transmisogynistic storyline, though I understand the creators issued a pretty sound apology....more
My best friend, god bless her soul, spent a significant portion of her life reading this aloud to me over the past few months. Otherwise I think I wouMy best friend, god bless her soul, spent a significant portion of her life reading this aloud to me over the past few months. Otherwise I think I would've expired around page 15.
Some background: I read this book when I was in middle school, probably around '01 or '02. My reading level advanced pretty quickly, and there wasn't the wealth and the depth of teen fiction to choose from that there is now. I didn't do sports and I didn't watch TV and I read so fast there was no way my mom could feasibly test the things I was reading before I read them. So Daughter of the Blood found its way into my hands exactly when I was going through a pseudo-goth stage. It was a revelation.
Sadists peppered my writing, and I wrote a million self-insert fanfics in my head about Daemon teaching my poor, broken Mary Sue how to be a whore (never, you know, sleeping with her because I was the gayest, most in-denial little 12-year-old in the world). Darkness was in, and these books were dark. I still have my copies, and both Daughter of the Blood and Queen of the Darkness are dog-eared to death, with cracked spines and water stains on the pages. (Heir to the Shadows not so much, because Daemon's hardly in it and he was my favorite, you know, as he was clearly intended to be).
As an adult I couldn't bring myself to part with them, and I'm really glad I didn't. There is absolutely no way around how terrible this book (probably the whole series, let's be real) is. They're misogynistic, they're badly written, and every dude is creepy, even the ones who are supposed to be hot. The setting is as comical as it is nonsensical, and no one every seems to have appropriate or logical emotional reactions. That said, Daughter of the Blood is strangely compelling, and Jaenelle herself is likable enough. Most importantly, though, Daughter of the Blood is hilarious, featuring sentient horse suicide, a magical fursona, and some chick's clit being bitten off by a dude fucking a statue. I cannot tell you how many times we had to stop reading and laugh helplessly at the pure absurdity of the book. Actually, I can: slightly more often than we had to stop reading due my keening wail as Jaenelle faced more stranger danger from the men who were supposed to protect her.
I cannot, cannot, stress this enough: do not read these if rape, child sexual assault, pedophilia, or violence triggers you. It's overblown and insincere, yes, and it's rarely dealt with seriously, but these themes permeate the book. That said, if you want something fun and easy to read, something ridiculous and overblown, then it's definitely worth the time....more