Kate Woods's Reviews > The Swan Riders

The Swan Riders by Erin Bow
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

it was amazing
bookshelves: physical-arcs, ya-fiction, scifi-fantasy, dystopian, i-own-hardcopy

Did you ever pick up a book you knew little about? Maybe it was on sale, or someone gave it to you. Then you read it and it was life changing and gorgeous and you didn’t understand why everyone wasn’t talking about it. That was The Scorpion Rules for me. I got it while it was on sale for Kindle and I devoured it in one day, only stopping to dry my tears and gush to my little brother about how perfect it was. When I heard there was a sequel, I was understandably worried. The Scorpion Rules had one of the most beautiful and perfect endings I ever read. I’ve spent the last 8 months scared of reading the sequel, afraid of what it would do to the perfection of its predecessor. I could not possibly be more surprised and content with The Swan Riders! I will never doubt Erin Bow or her talent again. This book was epic perfection on a whole new level. It took the beauty of The Scorpion Rules and turned it into something even better. It took that perfect ending and gave it new meaning. I don’t know how a book set in such an unrecognizable future and based on so much science can be filled with so much emotion or be so relatable. This is a book on what it means to be human, and in our current world filled with so much evil and hate, it is such a welcome and necessary book.

The Swan Riders takes the story in a very new direction. While The Scorpion Rules focused on Greta and the other children at the precepture, this book focused on the world itself, Talis, and the swan riders. From the first book, we already know what the human children experience and how they see the world, but now we get to see what the AIs and the swan riders experience, and how they view things. We learn more of the history of the world and how Talis and the swan riders come to exist. I had a lot of questions while I read the first book, and while I wasn’t terribly upset not to have them answered, it was a pleasant surprise to have them answered in this book. The story itself has always been enough to keep me reading, but knowing more about the swan riders and Talis really hooked me. Bow’s world-building is very interesting. She never gives more information than you need. It is an effective strategy that keeps you focused on the game and the players, not on the why until it really matters, and will have the biggest effect on you. It makes for some very emotional and pivotal moments in The Swan Riders. I absolutely ADORE when a science fiction writer can make a future world seem so real; I sit there waiting for it to become my reality. Erin Bow is a master at this. There are also major twists in this book that I can honestly say I did not expect at all! Bow is a master at building an interesting yet predictable story and then ripping it out from under you with amazing grace. At points I had to take a minute to absorb what just happened, it took me that much by surprise. The themes of morality and humanity were so prevalent, with science always lurking in the corners. The Prisoners of Peace series is a look into our possible future–and the cure to save it–or possibly prevent it.

Greta’s journey towards understanding who she is as a new AI, and her interaction with former friends and swan riders Sri and FX, brings a whole new spark of reality into the story. Greta’s inner thoughts and reactions are all so incredibly believable. I found myself nodding at times agreeing with something Greta said or thought. I felt a real connection to her as the main character. The war inside her was a fascinating thing to behold. Watching her decide who and what she is, coming to terms with the changes in her, made the story what it is. I got to know Talis so much better in this book and I love him. He is my favorite character by far. He vacillates between being this inhuman genius, with far too much knowledge and power, and acting like a teenage boy complete with sarcasm and dirty jokes. He brings a lighter side to Greta’s serious demeanor and weighty thoughts. I think FX, Sri, and the other swan riders provided valuable insight into this world and they were really compelling and mostly likeable characters. Elian popped back up in the story, much to my chagrin. I neither love him nor hate him. He serves a purpose, but I’m often cursing how impetuous and short sighted he can be. He is still a valuable character and the story wouldn’t be the same without him. The other AIs are very creepy, which I loved. Nothing makes a story more interesting than creepy AIs!! I think the only major player I really missed was Xie. She is not featured much in this book, but I can see why. Bow has her ducks in a row and the story must play out. I still missed her and the budding relationship between her and Greta. I honestly cannot wait to see where the next book takes us with all these characters.

This book is one of the few I would actually hazard to describe as perfect. The balance between witty banter and discussions of ethics is brilliant. The writing is superb and so very appropriate at all times. The language is flowery at the right times without ever being too much. Greta has poignant, emotional thoughts, while her dialogue is still snarky like a teenagers should be. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where I find so much of it to be absolutely just as it should be. There is science, but also emotion. There are motivational epic moments, but also silly ones. There are moments of great action and adventure, but also many descriptive scenes and inner monologues. There are characters of all types with all sorts of personalities. Erin Bow quite literally left nothing out. This book and this series have become my favorite of all time. I cannot wait to read more from this incredibly talented author!
4 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Swan Riders.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

August 17, 2016 – Shelved
August 17, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
September 10, 2016 – Started Reading
September 10, 2016 – Shelved as: physical-arcs
September 10, 2016 – Shelved as: ya-fiction
September 10, 2016 – Shelved as: scifi-fantasy
September 10, 2016 – Shelved as: dystopian
September 10, 2016 – Finished Reading
November 15, 2018 – Shelved as: i-own-hardcopy

No comments have been added yet.