Title: The Swan Riders (Prisoners of Peace #2)
Author: Erin Bow
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2016
Genre: YA Dystopian, YA Science Fiction
To see my review for the first book, The Scorpion Rules, click here: Teacherofya: The Scorpion Rules review
I honestly needed some time away from this novel in order to review it. Why? Well, I had a paper to write for my Shakespeare class, but that’s not it. I think I needed to stay in the story world a little bit longer…
It was painful. Let’s just say….I cried at the end. Literally. Cried. I know. 😳
Ok, let’s get on with it: like ripping off a band-aid, right? Quick and painless? Well, not painless…but you know what I’m saying.
Oh, by the way:
Ok, now we can begin!
So Greta Gustafsen Stewart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, has retired her title. You can’t really be royalty when you’re AI. She has hopes that she can save the world, if only she can avoid skinning, the process an AI goes through when overloaded with data. Greta has almost skinned before: a memory isn’t just a memory, but actually relived…and relived…and relived…and so on in a feedback loop until the AI shuts down. This is why there aren’t many AIs around: many didn’t survive the process. But Greta has. And that makes her valuable to Talis.
Oh, yeah, remember Talis? Leader of the world? Overlord? Cocky AI with a tendency to blow up cities for conflict resolution? Yeah, that’s him. He leads Greta with another two Swan Riders, Francis Xavier and Sri, to the Red Mountains where the Riders and AIs live. They just have to make it back in one piece.
As they traverse the Saskatoon terrain, Talis still in Rachel’s Swan Rider body, Sri runs off to get oats in a nearby town. She doesn’t come back. When they look for her, she’s being helped by the locals: apparently Sri has “Rider’s Palsy.” The disease creates lesions on the brain…the result of an AI inhabiting your body. She’s at level five, so she’s dying. They try to continue carefully, but her seizures interrupt a fast journey. When approaching a church, they are ambushed: Sri turns on all of them and stabs Talis in the chest, separating him from his datastore. He can no longer communicate with the satellites, the weapons orbitals, the world.
Talis is injured…so when the convoy calls for help, another Swan Rider arrives:
One has known Greta…has learned to appreciate the fragility of humans. And one has not.
But Talis Mark Two is in control now.
Is It Classroom-Appropriate?
Yes. Totally. All day long. It would be wonderful to make a lesson plan with both books. (You couldn’t use The Swan Riders without The Scorpion Rules) However, most classrooms are made for standalone texts. Some series texts can be read individually (i.e. People teach The Hunger Games, but not Catching Fire or Mockingjay). So it is possible. But this series needs book two. It is possible to use book one, but now that I’ve read the sequel I would never want to separate them.
I think the sequel is NECESSARY for reading book one, so it’s hard to do a lesson plan with two anchor texts, especially when they are part of a series. So I would only use The Scorpion Rules now if I could use both.
So it’s not listed on Lexile.com, and that could be because it is so new. So I’m going to stick with the same age range as The Scorpion Rules and say 14-17 (because Lexile said it for that book). No swearing and no sex. Some very touching moments. Very emotional book. I’d recommend it to my future students. I hope to have both books on my shelves in my home and future classroom…both books I had to read from the library, but I’d love to own them.
So if you’ve got this far, then you probably have figured out how I feel about this book. Obviously, I give it ★★★★★. It will make you cry. Well, maybe not. If you’re stone-hearted you might not. But I did.
I recommend this to ALL fans of dystopian literature. I recommend this to everyone. I want more, but I’m pretty sure it’s done, and I’m sad. I don’t know what to read next. It seems hard to move on.