The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

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The world is at peace, said the Utterances. And really, if the odd princess has a hard day, is that too much to ask?

Greta is a duchess and crown princess—and a hostage to peace. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Go to war and your hostage dies.

Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the Precepture school with the daughters and sons of the world’s leaders. Like them, she is taught to obey the machines that control their lives. Like them, she is prepared to die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives. Elián is a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. And he opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power.

As Greta and Elián watch their nations tip closer to war, Greta becomes a target in a new kind of game. A game that will end up killing them both—unless she can find a way to break all the rules. (Goodreads)

I have had this on my TBR list for a while, so when I had the chance to get it, I did. I am upset to say that I was sorely disappointed and DNFed this book at 10%. The premise looked so promising and it just fell flat on its face.

There was no world building!! I feel like I was thrown into this unknown world, with only a very short explanation of what happened to actually get there and why they ended up there and that was it. There was just nothing – I was expected to understand something that never stemmed from my own imagination. What year are we in? Not even that was clear, all I know is that is 400 years on from the war that led the characters to where they are now – not even the year the war took place was obvious. It just made no sense.

Goats. I am pretty sure the author has a thing for goats because the description of them was top notch. She could write a goat story and it’d be pretty interesting, I think. Plus, how the heck does a goat get stuck in a tree? seriously?? Pretty clever goat. Also, I am pretty sure that if a goat jumps onto your shoulder after being stuck in a tree, he isn’t going to land lightly – as depicted in the book!

I know that I only got 10% of the way in, but I didn’t feel anything for the characters. I felt nothing. I didn’t care that there was a constant threat to their lives if their parents didn’t play fair; I didn’t care that it isn’t fair that they are the children of peace because of a war that happened 400 years ago; I didn’t care whether they stayed in that situation forever or whether they did something about it! I think my lack of investment in the lives of the characters didn’t help. Any reader needs to feel something for the characters, otherwise the book will never be considered interesting.

This book was also pretty slow paced. It was really easy to put my kindle down to go and do something else. That something else turned out to be the housework. Yup, I traded in a book for cleaning – it can’t get any worse!! As any normal person, I have no problem procrastinating the housework – but I didn’t want to!! Hoovering my entire flat was more appealing than reading this book!!

Can I just say, is WW1 really that interesting that they are still learning about it at least 500 years on from when it happened?? I think it was bad enough that I had to learn about it every year in school until I left Sixth Form, as well as WW2 – if the children 500 years from now are still going to be learning about it… well, lets just say have fun!!!

I think it is a real shame that this book fell flat on its face because the premise was so promising. It was slow paced and boring. I gave this book 1/5 stars.

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