The Scorpion Rules – Erin Bow (Review)

Title: The Scorpion Rules (Prisoners of Peace #1)
Author: Erin Bow
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015
Genre: YA Dystopian, YA Science Fiction

This review can be found on my BlogTeacherofYA’s Tumblr, or my Goodreads page

My Review:


It’s funny because I have always confused this book with Maggie Steifvater’s The Scorpio Races…so I went in thinking this book was about racing of some kind. I only checked it out because its sequel, The Swan Riders, was sitting on the shelf (it had just come out, at least on the New Releases shelf in my library). I wondered why I had never read the first book, so I picked up both and checked them out at the same time.

I’m so glad I did.

I think we all have a little bit of book intuition inside of us…have you ever thought that? Or felt it? 

It’s this nagging feeling inside you when you see a book that says, “Read me: I’m the one you’re looking for,” and we (a lot of the time) dismiss it as #coverlove, or preconceived ideas about the book, or even poor impulse control. I usually chalk it up to the poor impulse control. Mainly because if I’m feeling #coverlove over a book, I don’t think twice; I just grab it.

This, my book blogging friends, was book intuition.

I will say this: this book hasn’t gotten the best reviews. I’m confused. I thought it was diverse, original, fresh…well, you’ll see. I’ve waited for two days to write this review because I had papers or write…and I was also reading Vassa in the Night…so I put it off. But I can’t any longer. The review is bursting out of me, screaming to be written.

All right, I’m giving in to it finally. Let me first tell you about the book:

So, we start with a prologue…and I know what many writers advise: don’t start with a prologue! Well, I think it worked for this book. We are told the world was at war when the water started to dry up…and Talis saved them all by proclaiming The Utterances, casual-sounding advice taken as biblical law. 

400 years later, we meet Greta Gustafsen Stewart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation. What a name, right? We call her Greta. She is a Child of Peace. See, Talis, the AI that was tasked to stop the wars and decided the best way to do that was to blow up a bunch of cities and create new rules, came up with a brilliant plan: what’s the best way to stop a war? Make sure each side “has some skin in the game.” So, when a monarch or President of a territory wants to rule (like, before they become the monarch/President/whatever else they want to call themselves), they must have a child. Then, that child is taken to a Prefecture. The Prefecture raises the child until they are 18, and then they can go home. 

However…

If the monarch decides to declare war on another territory, then that monarch/whatever you want to call them sentences their child to death. Great way to keep the peace, right? I’m a queen and my daughter is thousands of miles away, and I decide to invade Kentucky (but Kentucky is called something else, cause we are in the future), a Swan Rider is sent to kill their child and the child of the opposing party. So no war. Great. Every once in awhile, though, war is inevitable, and we start the story as Greta watches a plume of dust head toward the Prefecture. A Swan Rider. Though she has eighteen months before her 18th birthday, she’s been watching the reports…the Pan-Polar Confederacy has the Great Lakes…and the neighboring territory is thirsty.

The Swan Rider is not for her but for another boy. Greta is spared. But shortly after the boy’s death, a new territory is formed, and that new territory must part with their child. So Elián comes to the Prefecture…and he’s not a typical Child of Peace. All the other children know that they may one day die: Elián thinks Talis and his robot rules can go to hell. But Talis sees all and Elián is punished so frequently he has electrified scorpions attached to his skin to “correct” his behavior.

Don’t you love dystopian literature?

Up until Elián, Greta has been good and quiet. With her friend Xie, who she loves more than a friend, she tries to make sure Elián follows the rules…because when Elián is punished, everyone is punished. But slowly Greta starts to care for the boy who dubbed himself Spartacus on the first day (freer of slaves), and she starts to see the injustice in her and the other childrens’ situation. 

But what can she do? Talis sees all…

Is It Classroom-Appropriate?

Omg, YES! This book has it all: robot-controlled (well, more like AI…robot is so passé) world, hostage children, diversity (Greta loves Xie, Greta loves Elián, race has disappeared), ethical dilemmas…it is so content-rich that I plan to make a lesson plan using The Scorpion Rules as an actor text. Even though there’s a sequel, the book doesn’t end with a cliffhanger to where meaning can’t be interpreted…the book can theoretically stand alone. I love that. I hate waiting for sequels to infer meaning from a book. A whole discussion could be raised over the logic of the Children of Peace: it technically works, so what’s wrong with it? Is it wrong if the people involved know that they are putting one life at risk for war? Oh, the topics to be discussed…the writing prompts that can be given…and there’s so much more that happens and I CAN’T TELL YOU, but I could use it in class.

Age Range:

Lexile.com suggests an age range of 14-17. I don’t see any problems with that recommendation. There’s no swearing (it actually says the word “expletive” in the book instead of having Greta swear), though one of the goats at the Prefecture is named Dipshit. Maybe that’s considered offensive. I don’t think it’s enough to warrant censoring the text. There’s a hint of intimacy between Xie and Greta…but nothing even close to explicit. I’m comfortable with the assessment. The score is HL600L, and that high-low designation is probably added because of the romantic relationships in the book. I don’t put too much behind the HL designations normally.


End Result:

★★★★★! I loved it. I really did. I’m eager to see what happens next in The Swan Riders.


Gosh, I love that cover. I’m not thrilled with the paperback version of The Scorpion Rules, but I guess it matches the sequel. (I’m not putting it up here because I hate it). I encourage any fans of dystopian lit that are tired of “the chosen one” trope or the insta-love rule, then this one is for you. Greta is complex…she starts out clearly stating that her sexuality hasn’t been decided, and she has no real personality in the beginning…but we see her blossom once Elián comes. She tells him that he “wakes her up.” Like a sleeping princess. And I love the relationship between her and Xie. Xie would do anything for Greta though she doesn’t realize it right away. 

I hope you guys ignore the reviews…a lot of people DNFed the book before it even got good. I never found myself tempted to, so I’m curious why they did. But nuts to them: they missed out on a treat. I haven’t even stopped thinking about it, even as I was reading Vassa in the Night. It’s on my Favorites shelf now.


Happy Reading, y’all! 😘

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64 thoughts on “The Scorpion Rules – Erin Bow (Review)

  1. I don’t think I have read this book before (going back to the other conversation we were having through comments on another post) but either way I will definitely be adding it to my to-read list now. It sounds really interesting; I am already really intrigued by the concept and I only hope I enjoy it as much as you have.
    Great review Stephanie! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Beth! Yeah, it confused me that there was another book out there with “Scorpio” in the title so for the longest time I thought it was the Stiefvater book. And that book sounds weird and doesn’t have a lot of good reviews. But when I was at the library, I read the inside jacket info, and it sounded totally up my alley.
      I was so pleasantly surprised. I honestly didn’t want to rate it so high bc I don’t want ppl to think I love every book I read…but I couldn’t in good faith rate it lower. Now that I renewed the sequel I’ll be going back to finish ACOMAF…can’t renew that again. That and Glass Sword and The Forbidden Wish. They’re due in five days!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I’ve read so many books now, both before and after I started blogging, that it’s hard to keep a track of what I have and haven’t read. I think this is definitely one that I haven’t read at the moment but honestly it’s probably on my to-read list already and that’s why it sounded so familiar to me.
        I feel like I do that as well, a lot of the books I read I end up loving though so I guess I must just know from reading a blurb what I’m going to like and what I’m not! Oh ACOMAF is so amazing, even better than the first one, and I hope you enjoy Glass Sword and The Forbidden Wish as well! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Well, I’ve been thinking about that…all the books we read…
      There’s a blogger that I can’t remember off the top of my head that has a little journal and keeps track of her books. I know with Goodreads now that people don’t write down anything physically anymore, but it would be cool to keep a book journal for reference purposes…take a pic of the cover and put it with the description…it would be a cool craft!
      I wish I could read quicker though. Lol. I might have to return all the books I just mentioned bc they have been renewed too many times! I’m going to have to prioritize what I have time to read now and what will have to come later. ACOMAF and Glass Sword are a priority bc they’re sequels. I may have to wait on Forbidden Wish…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That does sound like a cool craft, and I know there are probably plenty of people who keep proper blogging journals. I guess it just depends on each person, what you’re good at and what kind of crafts you enjoy doing you know?
        There are times when I feel that way as well but I guess you can’t force yourself, trust me that’s the fasted way to work yourself into a slump, or at least it is for me.
        That would be a shame but I guess if you know they’re at your library you can eventually re-request them when you have more time to read them right?

        Liked by 1 person

    3. So true! I went in and returned Glittering Court today, but I hurried and put a hold on it so hopefully I will get it back, lol!
      I saw this journal on Amazon called the YA book journal, or something like that…it was pretty cute. I am asking for a Fujifilm Instax camera this Christmas bc last Christmas I got a portable photo printer, and it’s awesome (you can wirelessly print from your phone or whatever using Bluetooth), but the paper is kinda pricey and you have to remember to keep it charged. The instant camera would be nice so I can take pics of the covers and put them in the journal! Then it’s like a tangible Bookstagram, since I’m not that artsy with physical objects and I own, like, no hardcover books (they’re all library or ebooks).
      So that’s what I’m thinking…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hopefully you won’t have to wait too long then until it’s back in your hands.
        That all sounds so amazing, I plan to find a nice notebook and use that to start a journal. I prefer writing my own rather than following a pattern if you get what I mean. That’s why I’ve never been able to stick to diaries when I tried writing them. But wow that sounds amazing, you’ll have to post some pictures on your blog if you do because I’ll be interested in seeing what it looks like. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    4. Well, I am starting to do Bookstagram…do you do that? Maybe it will help in my quest to make a notebook and make it organized. I thought I should start one bc everyone seems to have one!
      Do you do Instagram with books?

      Liked by 1 person

    5. Oh, yeah, I’m only doing it to see what the fuss is about. I don’t like that the app is for the iPhone only, so on my iPad it comes up all funny. But I figured there’s a lot of giveaways that ask for your Instagram…and I didn’t have one. So have to start somewhere I guess…I started Twitter only two months ago and I am getting better at that. Though I really only like it for the post updates and the giveaways on there!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No me neither actually. I haven’t got the app on my iPad which makes it hard to actually post photos sometimes. I haven’t posted in a while either but I may try and start again tonight. I have a couple of photos saved I could pull out of my Dropbox! 😀
        I still need to get a Twitter account but I reckon I’ll be better at that than I am Instagram, there’s a lot of random tangents I tend to go off on so Twitter just seems like the perfect place to post those! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    6. Oh, yeah, I was so against Twitter for the longest time bc I kept thinking who the hell cares about what I have to say? I think of it for important announcements. But then I did it so that someone doing a blog tour of a book could share my review, and I saw how cool it was. I love the direct message feature: it’s better than FB messenger, to me!
      I think you’ll like it, and they have giveaways on there all the time! Sammi from Ohbookishgirl wins them all the time!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think for me I try and start off strong and then tend to fade away a little, I haven’t posted on Bookstagram in ages but I may try and post something tonight, or tomorrow morning. I’m sure there are some good points to having a Twitter account, and when I do have one myself I’ll likely love it, but until then… 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    7. Well, then I’ll keep an eye out for your pics!
      Yeah, I started it and now I’m realizing that I really just don’t have time to take fancy pics of my books. I’m just glad I can see other ppl’s pretty pictures. If I had time, I would do it. But I HAVE to get back to work…I hate being unemployed but I have gotten a lot more reading and homework done. I’m going to miss the freedom of being jobless, but I’ll be happy to have money again!
      With Twitter, it’s something I just scan for giveaways at this point. I do post when o find a book on sale (today Ruined is only $1.99) so I did one today…if there was more than one book that was good on sale then I would do a blog post.
      But if you do start Twitter, or Goodreads, you know who to add!
      And I think I added you on Instagram…if I didn’t you should add me, and I have no pics but a few. I had to do teacher_of_ya as my username bc someone already had teacherofya! I’m like…who? 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t have time for fancy pics either, but then what works for me isn’t what works for other people. There are a few Bookstagrammers out there who have tons of time to take amazing looking photos but for me my first priority it always going to be my blog on WordPress so I guess in a way my Bookstagram account is going to fall in the wayside a little. I’ll still post but my images won’t be amazing compared to some peoples.
        Money makes everything worthwhile doesn’t it? And in that case I hope you manage to find a job soon as well! 😀
        Giveaways seems easy on Twitter in comparison, and of course as soon as I create a Twitter or Goodreads account you will be one of the first people I add!
        I do think I follow you on Bookstagram already but I will double check to make sure! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I actually think it’s funny that it’s called Bookstagram as a nickname. Cause it’s Instagram, but for books, so it’s got its own title for it! So freaking cool. What do they call YouTubers that do book reviews? BookTube? I’m sure there’s a name for it that I can’t think of right now! 😂😂
        And yes, money makes the world go round, right?

        Liked by 1 person

    8. It’s so crazy what ppl have time for! I barely have time for what I do right now!
      Well, I could never get on camera and talk about a book; I’d be way too self-conscious! Have you ever thought of doing it? I know Ashleigh has done it before and it looked really complicated!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Same here. It’s why I’m introducing social media to my blog in stages. So I can get the hang of managing one before starting another.
        Yeah I know people who have gone from WordPress to Booktube but I don’t think I could do it either. I’m way to self conscious in front of the camera, plus when I get nervous I tend to babble and go off on wild tangents. Not the best habit for starting a Booktube! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    9. I think that’s a good idea. Like dipping your toes in the water before submerging yourself!
      I hope you get pretty comfortable because I still could use some lessons, lol!
      I don’t know how people have the courage to film themselves talking about books: I would die of embarrassment just thinking about attempting to do it! 😳😳😳

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly, plus I will know how the site works as well and become a kind of expert in it. Blogging takes up a lot of my time at the moment so I need to make I can fit everything else around it.
        I think it must take a lot of practise and a lot of development to get to the polished videos you likely see by famous Booktubers. I think it’s the same with what we do in a way, if you look back at the very first review you wrote it won’t be nearly as good as the one you posted most recently. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    10. Oh, goodness, I’m afraid to look at my first review here! And I can’t even imagine the one on Goodreads! I agree; I think the practice here would help but I’m also happy staying here. You and I aren’t those ppl who need to have the world follow us: we are just happy blogging and talking about bookish awesomeness! 😊🙌

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t gone back and looked at my first one either but I imagine it’s not great. Writing styles change with times and as you blog you learn a lot more about the process.
        I don’t need the world, I’m happy with my small corner of it. And I’d rather devote most of my time to WordPress than split it out over loads of social media accounts. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    11. I completely agree. I’m sad that I don’t get to see some of the awesome blogs on blogspot bc I’m on WordPress, but that’s the only hangup I have. I wish we could cross-post or be able to follow their blogs, because I actually started on blogspot (except it didn’t have an app and my coding from the iPad was NOT compatible), though I love WordPress. I just know some blogs that ads AWESOME that I never check out because they aren’t WordPress blogs. Do you have that prob too?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah it would be amazing if you could follow blogs on different blogging sites, until then I just bookmark everything to go back to at a later date.
        I’ve always been a WordPress blogger so I’m not aware of many Blogspot blogs, I’m sure there are amazing ones out there but until there’s a way for me to follow them I’m not sure how to go about finding them and keeping up to date on their posts you know?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds interesting! I think I get this one confused with The Scorpio Races too. And I know exactly what you mean by “book intuition”! Five stars for this one? You make it sound great! If it’s not on my TBR already, I’ll definitely have to add it. Great review and I’ll be looking forward to your review of The Swan Riders!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, and I think a LOT of ppl confuse the two…I’m glad it’s not just me.
      Def felt the intuition this time…I’m glad I listened instead of ignoring it like I do a lot of the time by accident!!
      And yes…I thought long and hard: it deserved every star!! So I hope it’s up your alley. ::crosses fingers::

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the whole idea of this book! I’ve been talking about how I want to find more dystopias because it used to be a favorite genre of mine before I burned myself out on it for a while after having read so many. Seems a little love triangley but I think I could look past that. Also, I know what you mean about getting this title mixed up with The Scorpio Races because when I’ve seen the cover I always read it as TSR first 😂. And yes to book intuition! I know that feeling. That was what led me to reading The Bone Season and it was the best decision I ever made. Great review! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! A fellow book intuition believer and confuser of The Scorpio/n Races/Rules!! I’m not alone!!
      It’s less like a love triangle because there’s no jealousy…very hippyish, share the love kind of vibe. That wasn’t something I expected!
      Have seen the title The Bone Season but don’t remember what it’s about…I keep confusing that one with The Bone Witch, lol!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s good to know! I like when love triangles lack the jealousy aspect. I feel like jealousy and drama is what turns me off of them haha.
        Titles that are similar as always so confusing 😂. I don’t know what The Bone Witch is about but The Bone Season is about future London ruled by a government called Scion that has made being clairvoyant against the law. It’s kind of a dystopia/fantasy/scifi. I love it! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d heard about this book when in its promotion before it was released, and it intrigued me so much that I immediately had to add it to my TBR. But I forgot about it, as with what often happens to books on my TBR because there are just sooo many books to read! I’m putting this back up on the list though, this review just confirms how much this book seems right up my alley; politics, war, breaking troupes? Sign me up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m so glad I could bring back the interest for you!
      I honestly wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was…I hope it pleasantly surprises you, too!
      Thanks for sharing, 😊 Let me know what you think!

      Like

  5. Annie

    I’ve had a similar experience lately, you love a book so much and keep seeing other people who hated it and DNFd it…and you’re wondering: what’s wrong with me? hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, that about sums it up! It so confuses me. I start to think maybe there’s something wrong with me…
      Then I think, am I so out of touch?
      No, it’s the children that are wrong…(Simpsons quote, sorry! Couldn’t resist!)
      Thanks for getting it!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dodds! (What’s your real name, btw? I know there’s Imogen, but what do I call you, dear?)
      I ALSO love me a good prologue! For some reason though, authors are saying that prologues are bad…idk why.
      Thanks for reading! 😘

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I didn’t know that we can’t read the prologue before reading the book? Although sometimes I don’t understand it and have to read it again after I finished the book, but I haven’t heard anyone mentioned it. Also I saw book 1’s cover and it looks awesome! Did you give 5 stars for book 1?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I gave it five stars!
      What I meant about prologues was not that they aren’t supposed to be read…in the writing community, prologues are considered “cheating” and they don’t think books should come with them. Oh, definitely read the prologues or else books won’t make sense.
      I just don’t understand how writers can determine that something is “not cool” to do anymore in the writing community. They think prologues are a cheat in writing and the author is therefore not good enough to do the world building. I saw it on a top ten list of writing dont’s!!
      I don’t agree: I think prologues are awesome and they give the reader info that they might need later. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The Swan Riders – Erin Bow (Review) – TeacherofYA's Book Blog

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