The world is run by an artificially intelligent being, Talis. In order to deter wars, each nation's leader must send an offspring as a hostage. These offspring are taken to a Precepture where they are educated but captive. If their country goes to war, the child is executed.
Greta is the Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy, one of the largest nations. There is a worldwide water shortage, so the Pan Polar Confederacy guards its supply and is likely to go to war to protect it. Greta is sure she will soon be executed. A new government is formed, so a new kid comes to the Precepture, Elian. Elian's country is next to Greta's vying for the same water. He's not cooperative and disrupts the routine. Not only is Elian tortured for his behavior, the rest of the kids must suffer too because they are supposed to help him learn to cooperate.
They don't escape. That's what you think is going to happen. So that's not it, which I found refreshing in itself. But all hell breaks loose, and it changes everything for these kids. I'm not really going to say any more than that.
For as bad as the water shortage is, it doesn't seem to affect the Precepture very much. Yes, they mention not taking showers, and it never rains. But they have lush gardens and livestock, so they must be using water. My favorite part of the book is the beginning when we are introduced to the characters and their world. The scientific aspects were also very interesting, and sci-fi buffs will certainly appreciate that aspect. After "all hell breaks loose" I thought the story got a little muddled, sometimes going too fast so that I felt I needed more information. I didn't always understand the motivations of the characters and the reasons they made the choices they did.
But the story is fascinating and leaves room for a lot of thought and discussion. And it's also a bit brutal at times, so be warned. Something very significant happens at the end that makes me think the next installment of Prisoners of Peace will be very different than The Scorpion Rules.
I liked it. I just lost some of the details that might have made The Scorpion Rules exceptional.
Published by Margaret K. McElderry, September 22, 2015
eARC obtained from NetGalley
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