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
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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