- The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-4271-8 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-4273-2 $7.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 8-10
The world is so much better since an artificial intelligence named Talis stepped in to save humans from their own stupid selves, which he explains with sharp humor and world-weary wit in the prologue to this intriguing dystopia. In the 400 years since Talis made humans behave, things have been relatively peaceful and productive, though limited resources and human’s warlike natures keep tensions high. There’s a price to battling now, however, in that all regions must submit a beloved child who will die if a government declares war. Greta is one of those children, carefully following the dictates of the quiet enclave where such kids are kept. Then a new teen arrives who breaks the rules, accepts the punishments, and continues to challenge his society, both as a person selected to serve as war bounty and as a citizen of a planet that is imperfect even with a benevolent overlord. Suddenly Greta can’t go back to moving in bland ways, and her new realization leads to rebellion and an acknowledgment of her love for her roommate, the brilliant Xie, who returns Greta’s affection. Political, social, and romantic passions are all effectively developed, both in Talis who really does think he is in the right, and in the teens, who slowly but steadily awaken to the potential individuals might have to change the world. Teens in the know about AI will find this tantalizingly, albeit horrifyingly, close to reality, and they’ll revel in pointing out real-life examples where our robot overlords have already taken over key government/global operations.