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The Scorpion Rules

(Prisoners of Peace #1)

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  6,413 ratings  ·  1,510 reviews
The world is at peace, said the Utterances. And really, if the odd princess has a hard day, is that too much to ask?

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 birt
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 22nd 2015 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Korene, the short answer is NO. It's not for pre-teens or younger teens - there's torture, violence, an F-bomb or two, straight and gay sexual content…moreKorene, the short answer is NO. It's not for pre-teens or younger teens - there's torture, violence, an F-bomb or two, straight and gay sexual content (non-explicit, but still IMO not for the younger set).

Alternative suggestions: When my kids were 10-12 years old they also loved Rick Riordan's books (all of his YA series. Actually, they still love them). Here are a few of the other fantasy books and series they've really loved at that age:

Brandon Mull's Fablehaven and Candy Shop war series
C.S. Lewis' Narnia series
M.L. Forman's Adventurers Wanted series
Shannon Hale's Princess Academy series
Cornelia Funke, Dragon Rider
Ingrid Law, Savvy (there's also at least one more book)
Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl series

These might be a better bet for an 11 y/o. Hope this is helpful!

Erin Bow Yes; I'm putting a polish on a companion novel right now.
Yes; I'm putting a polish on a companion novel right now.
Winter by Marissa MeyerRed Queen by Victoria AveyardThe Heir by Kiera CassFairest by Marissa MeyerSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
YA Novels of 2015
1,540 books — 8,951 voters
The Summoning by Kelley ArmstrongThe Gathering by Kelley ArmstrongStolen Songbird by Danielle L. JensenFalling Kingdoms by Morgan RhodesThe Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
Canadian YA
469 books — 155 voters

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Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.40  · 
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 ·  6,413 ratings  ·  1,510 reviews

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Emily May
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I picture Erin Bow smiling evilly as she wrote this book. I'm smiling now just thinking about the trap - disguised as the safe and old - that this book lures you into.

Because you know exactly what this is, right? You've read the description and you think you know what’s coming, don't you? A future world where an evil tyrant has taken over and enforced a set of crazy rules. A future world through the eyes of a female narrator who becomes irrevocably changed when a new boy comes into her life. You
Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
DNF at 75% because I'm so bored. No stars if I could. I'm so confused. And I just don't care.
A sonic boom.
It crashed into us like a slap to the ear. The stuck goat shouted. From the trees all around, loose apples pattered down. Grego bolted for the edge of the grove, leaving Atta alone with the ladder.
We all wanted to go with him, of course, but—
“Wait! The goat!” I called.
My classmates stopped and turned and looked at me. On their faces, varying degrees of annoyance, resignation, and respect
Maggie Stiefvater
Bow's amoral artificial intelligence overlord is one of my favorite characters in awhile. ...more
Elle (ellexamines)
“Did you know, the man who invented the atomic bomb once said that keeping peace through deterrence was like keeping two scorpions in one bottle? You can picture that, right? They know they can't sting without getting stung. They can't kill without getting killed. And you'd think that would stop them." He gave the book another boot, and it flipped closed with a snick. "But it doesn't." He looked up and his eyes were the color of Cherenkov radiation, the color of an orbital weapon. "You'v
Jul 13, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-star-reads
Dnf 65%.

If you like goats you'll like this book...

However I am not one of those people who like goats soooooooooooooooooo this wasn't for me.
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ by: Aly (In Wonderland)

4/4.5 stars. Welcome to my Unpopular Opinion Review of the month! (alright, I'm writing "unpopular opinion" reviews more often than that, BUT let's be honest, usually it's the other way around). What this means is : if you hated The Scorpion Rules, you might find me too lenient. Hello you! If you loved The Scorpion Rules, you might be happy to hear that no, you're not alone. Hello you! If you haven't read The Scorpion Rules, what are you waiting for? Hurry up and come back to tell me which categ
Aly (In Wonderland)
It wasn’t a global war — more a global series of regional wars. We called them the War Storms. They were bad. The water reserves gave out, the food supplies collapsed, and everybody caught these exciting new diseases, which is one of those fun side effects of climate shift that we didn’t pay enough attention to in the planning stages. I saw the plague pits, I saw the starving armies, and eventually I…
Well, it was my job, wasn’t it? I saved you.

Oh. My. God.

Although I love a lot of boo
I hate to disappoint Emily again, but I have to side with that half of the early reviews of The Scorpion Rules that uses words "flat" and "boring" a lot.

Erin Bow is a fine writer, but I guess she needs to eat too. Reading this novel was like reading something written to a certain request - a request to create another "bestseller" with a high concept and wide appeal. There was no life, excitement or surprise in the story, just one familiar trope after another. It started with a bit of Hunger Game
Natalie Monroe
1.5 stars

"You sound exactly like a textbook, do you know that?" he said. "It's amazing."

Took the words right out of my mouth. It's amazing The Scorpion Rules has managed to take an high-concept dystopian plot and mutilate it into bland, soulless mush. There's no spirit in this book. No soul, no spark.

It started awesome. Talis, the UN ambassador who ceased war in the Before, was narrating and the guy is charismatic as hell. He's snarky, morally dubious, and basically everything I want in an
Chelsea Humphrey
Oh gosh. Hm. Well, I'm not sure what to say, other than I don't think I'm enough of a hard core goat enthusiast to appreciate this book. In all seriousness, I think my main problem was a lack of connection to the characters which resulted in my zoning out and being a little bored. I did bump it up to 2 stars because it became more interesting in the end with a twist I didn't see coming. I'll have to think on this one some more and dream of baby goats and bigger goats and goats being wiped down w ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Review originally posted at
Sit down, kiddies. Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, humans were killing each other so fast that total extinction was looking possible, and it was my job to stop them.

Well, I say “my job.” I sort of took it upon myself. Expanded my portfolio a bit. I guess that surprised people. I don’t know how it surprised people — I mean, if they’d been paying the slightest bit of attention they’d have known that AIs have this built-in tendency t
Faye, la Patata
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the film Lucy on crack.

With a lot of world politics.

And F/F interracial romance that was sweet, amazing, and heartbreaking.

Aug 16, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-releases
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Rating: 1 star
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages. The Children of Peace - sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals - are raised together in small, isolated schools called Prefectures. There, they lea
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, haunting and unforgettable. I've read this story in three different drafts now, twice in manuscript and now in ARC form, and it gets more extraordinary every time. The worldbuilding is original and thorough, the characters diverse and full of humanity (including some that aren't, technically, human) and the story keeps ratcheting up the tension with a perfect balance between humor and horror. You will never look at goats, or certain pieces of farm equipment, without either laughing or ...more
The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori)
Full Review on The Candid Cover

The Scorpion Rules is a dystopian novel not to be missed. It has got an original concept, a strong female character and really beautiful writing. I recommend that everyone read this book because it is definitely one of the most unique and thought provoking books of this year!

I love the concept of the Scorpion Rules! Basically, all the royal children are taken as hostages. If war begins in their country, the hostages will die. This concept is so original and describ
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ana’s Take:

Once upon a time (or, four hundred years ago), the world literally went to shit. Climatic catastrophes, wars and plagues raged until an artificial intelligence named Talis got fed up and took charge of the world’s weapons system and turned them against the warring nations. But the threat of annihilation wasn’t enough – the AI did not want to keep destroying entire cities after all – so Talis made it more complicated. Talis made it personal.

He (it?) created the Children of Peace. Each
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
“Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, humans were killing each other so fast that total extinction was looking possible, and it was my job to stop them.”

This book should have worked. It had an exceptionally clever premise, diverse characters, and a unique romance. Unfortunately, I found it to be pretty boring.

The Scorpion Rules takes place in a world governed by an artificial intelligence known as Talis. In order to keep the peace between countries and make sure war is never declared,
Helen 2.0
May 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In one word: AWESOME.

Even though the Scorpion Rules is set in a post-apocalyptic world where children of world leaders are held hostage to prevent war, the book is super entertaining. And, although Talis is a genocidal merciless AI overlord, it's really hard to hate a villain who makes sex jokes, references Star Wars, pats heavily armed enemy soldiers on the heads like puppies, and has strangely paternal feelings towards the heroine. I'm not saying I forgive Talis for murdering millions of peop
Sherwood Smith
Jul 19, 2015 added it
Shelves: sf
Another entry in the "teens in jeopardy" subgenre, this one stood out for me because the super government actually made sense in how it came about.

It's lethally simple: world leaders have to surrender their kids, and if they declare war, the kids are killed by the AI who now controls the weapons platforms of the world.

I think this book would be upsetting for younger readers, as the kids in jeopardy are really in danger of their lives. Including little ones. You find that out in the first few pag
Jun 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
You cannot control a man if you take everything from him. You must leave him something to lose.

For four hundred years an AI named Talis has kept the peace on Earth by requiring all the world's leaders to surrender their children to be educated and raised in an isolated Precepture run by AIs. These Children of Peace are blood hostages, and their lives are immediately forfeit should any of their respective countries engage in war with the other. Talis maintains tight control over this system, and
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: no one
DNF at about 70%

The problem with The Scorpion Rules is that this book has no plot. And that it is boring and the characters are flat. And the story is a mess. I honestly struggled through this book, I believed that one more page and real story will begin. I read 50% of the book and nothing happened. When things started to move at least, they were incredibly slow and still, it felt like nothing was happening. And by this time I was done and did not care about the story or characters at all. And t

May 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
A few centuries in the future, the world has suffered terrible catastrophe due to global warming: The poles melted, fresh water became scarce, and war after war was fought. Then an AI called Talis gained control, and a sort of peace. But the peace is twisted, dependent on the willingness of world leaders to sacrifice a beloved child in exchange for the right to declare war.

They’re more willing than you’d like, if you were one of those children.

Her Royal Highness, Greta Gustafson Stuart, Duches
E.K. Johnston
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, I tell you. I mean, I have read a lot of books (as you do), and this one is one of my favourites. Possibly my absolute favourite. It is that good.

The world building is astonishing. Erin Bow has created not only an entirely believable future, but also an entirely believable set of characters to fill it. You can *smell* the goats when you read it. And the politics! My heart, the politics.

I can't even tell you about the most amazing part, though, because that wouldn't be fair to you. You
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Non-formulaic, diverse, vaguely dystopian YA novel!!!!!!!!! \o/ I didn't even mind the love triangle because it wasn't really a love triangle at all!!! GOD, THIS WAS GREAT. /god/

Ok, the first thing I need to say is that I LOVED Greta, the narrator and protagonist. The main reason for this is that she. was. dutiful. and. responsible. The entire novel is about her willingness to die for and be useful to the ~tyrannical system~ because she knows it generally works to keep the peace. This is so muc
Lindsay Cummings
Wow. Super unique and I can't believe Greta ACTUALLY did it. Bravo, to the author, for taking the leap and making her main character make a choice that was tough and completely life-altering. Greta is brave. ...more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ezra by: Siransi
Shelves: favorites
I don't think I have the words to describe just how much I adored this book.

Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
First, civilization was on the brink of collapse due to global warfare over the scant resources of a post-climate change world. And then Talis took over. Talis is a powerful AI with control over the world's supply of orbital super-weapons which he only had to use a dozen times or so before people got the point. In the new world there are rules, and one of those rules is that war is personal. So if you're going to lead a country you need to have children. Children that will be taken hostage and k ...more

Arc provided by Margaret K. McElderry Books through Netgalley


Look, reading the first pages, I thought for sure that this was going to be a winner: the concept! For crying out loud!
I haven't read a book with an addictive concept like this one in ages.

Unfortunately, the execution feels as if it followed a god damn list: insert this... insert that... no soul whatsoever.

Here's the thing, I am all about diversity in books. And at first glance, this book seemed to have nailed it perfectly.

We ha
prag ♻
probably no other book ever will have AIs that rule the world as well as girls kissing and that just makes me sad
Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The actual rating is 4,5 stars.

Okay, all you need to know about The Scorpion Rules is that you need to read it. I wish I could write beautiful all-encompassing review about this mind-blowing book but I don't have the necessary skills. Please read the book, it's unique, gripping and thought-provoking.
The fact that I can't write reviews hasn't stopped me yet, so...

The Scorpion Rules is a wild mix of politicals schemes and plottings, thriller and sci-fi. Future Earth is ruled by all-powerful AI wit
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1. I'm a physicist turned poet turned YA novelist.
2. I am world-famous in Canada, which is kind of like being world-famous in real life.
3. I write books for young readers and people like me who didn't grow up. All my books will either will make you either cry on the bus or snort milk out your nose. I am dangerous to your dignity and should be stopped.
4. I needed WHERE THE RE

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“Did you know, the man who invented the atomic bomb once said that keeping peace through deterrence was like keeping two scorpions in one bottle? You can picture that, right? They know they can't sting without getting stung. They can't kill without getting killed. And you'd think that would stop them." He gave the book another boot, and it flipped closed with a snick. "But it doesn't." He looked up and his eyes were the color of Cherenkov radiation, the color of an orbital weapon. "You've got a bit of nerve, little scorpion. All I did was invent the bottle.” 13 likes
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