The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow | SLJ Audio Review

redstarBOW, Erin. The Scorpion Rules. 8 CDs. 10:30 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2015. $29.99. ISBN 9781442391604.

Gr 9 Up –Four centuries in the future, the UN’s leading artificial intelligence has put an end to large-scale wars by requiring all world leaders to surrender one of their children as The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bowa hostage to peace. The children live in isolated preceptures and are educated to be future heads of state, all the while knowing that if their countries go to war, their lives are forfeit. Greta Stuart, the crown princess of the Pan Polar Confederation in what was once eastern Canada, has lived at the precepture in Saskatchewan for most of her life and accepts her position without question until the arrival of Elian Palnik from the newly formed Cumberland Alliance (located in what was once parts of Appalachia and Midwestern United States). Elian defies the rules of the Precepture, upsetting the carefully maintained order, and his presence opens Greta’s eyes and leads her to challenge the reality she’s always accepted. Madeleine Maby narrates this gripping, original, and superbly written story. She captures Greta’s precise way of speaking while also navigating the various accents of a large cast of characters, human and AI, from different corners of the world. At her best with Greta, Maby allows the princess’s measured tones to slip when emotion demands it and conveys the strength of the multifaceted heroine. VERDICT Full of twists, the story races to a surprising conclusion, and listeners will be clamoring for a follow-up to this thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking novel. [“Bow delivers a knockout dystopian novel that readers will devour with their hearts in their mouths”: SLJ 8/15 starred review of the S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry book.]–­Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2016 issue.

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