Snarky AI Steals the Show

26 Jul

  The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, NY
Publication Date: September 2015

It’s 400+ years in the future and an AI rules the world.  The AI is all about controlling war and does so by taking the children of the world leaders as hostages.  It guarantees compliance – if a world ruler declares war, then the Child of Peace, their own flesh and blood, is killed.  It’s a fairly strong incentive. Not perfect but it tends to work.  Usually.

Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy had been a hostage since she was 5.  When her mother became Queen, Greta became a Child of Peace, raised on a special farm, learning the history of war and how to do the manual labor of a farm with the other children hostages.

At the beginning, Greta lives with her constant fear that her mother will declare war and she will die.  Death comes, but goes to another boy. Then the replacement hostage arrives.  And slowly, slowly, Greta begins to wake from her daily studies and notice the things around her.  She notices that some children are tortured. And she notices love.

The book starts slow. But as the society is described, it starts to take off.  The AI is not the computer sounding master but sounds annoyingly human with vast, unlimited power.  In fact, he is a perfect foil for Greta, who is a perfect Princess.  Once things take off, they do so at a rapid rate with more surprising switches then you can possibly anticipate.  Yes, the set up is for a sequel and yes, I wish to read it now.

Also, the book casually deals with homosexual love, not affronting, but naturally.  In fact, it’s reasonable to say it deals with teenage love. And love is what helps us survive.

Recommended: Grades 8 & up


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