The Scorpion Rules

The Scorpion Rules

eBook - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
The teenage princess of a future-world Canadian superpower, where royal children are held hostage to keep their countries from waging war, falls in love with an American prince who rebels against the brutal rules governing their existences.
Publisher: New York :, Margaret K. McElderry Books,, 2015
ISBN: 9781481442732
Branch Call Number: Online eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file, rda
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

Related Resources


From Library Staff

In this thought-provoking sci-fic, Greta and Elian face almost certain death at the hands of Talis, according to the strict rules of the society in which they live. If they want to live, they must somehow beat those rules. This book is a nominee for the 2017 White Pine Award and is the sequel i... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

ArapahoeTiegan May 12, 2018

This story is set in a world that is run by AI intent on stopping humans from killing each other. Things had gotten so bad at one point that the human race was almost completely destroyed. An AI named Talis put a stop to this practice by bombing a few big cities and setting up some policies to make people be more careful about starting wars - one of those policies included placing the child next in line to rule each territory and raising them together until they are 18 - unless their parents go to war, then the children of the warring territories are killed. Greta, the princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy, is the main voice for this story, allowing readers to experience life as a royal child raised with the threat of death if their territories are on the verge of war as Greta's is.

PimaLib_ChristineR Jul 20, 2017

This is probably the best book I've read in many years. I'd give it more stars if I could. A dystopian fantasy set in a future where land wars have given over to oil wars and finally water wars before the AI Talis sets a new order to keep the human population from wiping itself out. His first rule of war: "make it personal," and replaces a system that allows leaders to send unknowns off to war; instead every leader must give a child to be held hostage, a child whose life is forfeit if his country declares war.

Told from the perspective of one of these children, it is easy as a reader take their side. How horrible to live with the constant threat of death, to be torn from your family, to know your family may choose war over your life if necessary. And when a new boy, Elian, is hostaged but won't play by the rules, it would have been simple for Bow to take the easy out, with Elian playing hero and the children changing the system. But this novel never takes the easy way.

I see several reviews about the "tired tropes" here, but this book isn't about tropes. Elian doesn't "open" Greta's eyes that the situation is horrible, she's always known that; instead he shows her her own power and that in protecting herself, she has cut herself off from the suffering of her friends. This isn't a love story (or at least that kind of love story). Talis isn't the bad guy. Maybe there isn't a bad guy. Honestly, if all you get from the book is goats, you may not be ready for this book.

Politically thoughtful, emotionally wrenching, sweet, humourous, and horrifying, the characters and questions Bow raises will stick with you long after the final page.

Mar 17, 2017

The book, The Scorpion Rules, written by Erin Bow, explores many themes and conflicts about the degrading environment we have created, when defining the word “humanity”. The book takes place in the potential future, where it could be considered dystopian even though the comparison towards our own society is uncanny. It takes place under the notion that Earth is now a war torn planet, with scarce resources and a lack of peace, and in order to sustain society, the UN takes extreme measures to control wars and conflicts. The main idea for limiting these problems is to make it personal to the world leaders, and as it takes place in the future, technology, such as Artificial Intelligence, is used to reinforce these new-found laws. Therefore, this society has very limited freedom and independence, which at first does not seem to bother the main character, Greta, a very important child in the society. However, as she is introduced to new people, conflicts and love, her opinion and strength as the world around her continues to disappear. This book overall is intended for an audience of 14 years old and older, as the theme and concepts are quite profoundly presented to demonstrate the crises and conflicts of the future.
- @Because_Logic of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

ArapahoeAndrew Aug 01, 2016

I really wanted to like this more than I did. It felt like he character development was a priority, but the plot development lagged for me and there were too many unexplained holes for my liking. That being said, the book got more enjoyable as it went along, and I appreciated the numerous subtle devices used to challenge gender and the more overt ones used to address sexuality and the development of power.

Jul 27, 2016

I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. Bow sets the scene wonderfully and includes enough tech descriptions and explanations to give a neophyte like me a fighting chance to understand what's going on in the story. The characters are fairly well developed, but of course they are all children of royals and other leaders (I guess we expect them to be fairly shallow). It's a new way to deal with a dystopian world, explore the price of power, and address class divisions and love interests. Loved the quotes from Talis.

Jun 15, 2016

"Scorpion Rules" by Erin Bow was a wonderful read. It takes place in an dystopian future, but has an exciting, original twist. In it royal children are held hostage by the robot overlord Talis to keep the various countries from going to war. If they do go to war it's off with their kid's head! An exciting, thought-provoking, original idea. Bow isn't afraid to get technical, but amazingly doesn't doesn't go overboard with it. Great character development. Hilarious, suspenseful, and intriguing. Kept me interested until the very last word.

Mar 03, 2016

Enjoyed idea....characters not so much. Only Elian and Talis. That's it. Especially not the relationships. Will not be reading the series. Dissapointing!!

Feb 25, 2016

I liked the idea...but not so much the characters...

samdog123 Dec 09, 2015

This is a very original piece of dystopian fiction. Greta is a princess kept as hostage with other royal children in order to keep world peace. If one country causes war on another, their child is forfeit and will be put to death. Great character development in all characters here--Greta, Elian, and Xie, in particular. Really kept me interested and I couldn't wait to see what happened at the end.

litriocht Nov 20, 2015

Bow’s book has elements of sci-fi woven through an adrenaline-pumping narrative. Expect the sequel will fly off the shelves.

View All Comments


Add a Quote

Jun 22, 2016

"Nah. You can fly - I know you can. Look at her."

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at SMPL

To Top