Where Are Their Personalities and More Questions From My Time Reading 'Scorpion Rules'

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Scorpion Rules
Erin Bow 

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.

There are only two things I liked about this book. Talis and Elian.
And there are many things I hated.

Why did I like Talis and Elian? They were the only characters with actual personalities. You think that Children of Peace would rebel more. You know, do drugs or have sex. The stuff typical teenagers do. (Also. How old are these guys? They are so stoic and boring and personality-less that I couldn't tell.)
Talis had amazing humor. The sorta-funny guy you know. And Elian was rebellious. A little too rebellious but he was still great. They both had more emotions than the entire Precepture combined. Seriously. They laughed and loved and fought and killed and joked. I really wanted a story about Talis. He's way more interesting. He has a past, a human one. And he's an AI now. Why? How? Some of the many questions that went unanswered about the two most interesting characters of this book.
The rest of the kids were empty shells. And that seriously annoyed me. With the presence of oppression, a good amount of people rebel. And not hiding in the shadows and 'playing coyotes'. (Where did that phrase come from anyways? It makes no sense. What do coyotes have to do with sex?)

And I will now start a long rant about the rest of the book. Which I'll keep short for you, dear readers.

Let me say this. Greta was emotionless before and after her little procedure. She was robotic. She barely reacted. She barely felt. I was honestly stunned. Most main characters have backstories and pasts and lovers and relationships. Simply put, Greta didn't.
And it's not just her. It's the other Children. Thandi and Xie had no emotions. Atta was barely mentioned. Han and Gregori had more childish emotions, but I think the Abbott hadn't yet sucked out their souls.
These characters were bland. No personality. No spark. No childishness. Elian didn't just bring rebellion to the Precepture. He brought personality as well. (That doesn't mean his arrival changed much either. Just saying he changed tiny things.)

I couldn't stand the romance. Where is the chemistry? Where is the love? I didn't see it. I saw a chance to make the people think this was an even more diverse book with LGBT characters! (Don't think I'm critiquing the author here. I know I actively try to add diversity in my stories.) There was no spark. No prior feelings. Nothing. Just romance out of nowhere. Mind you, these two have known each other for a long time. Since Greta got there. And if these feelings just arise almost thirteen years later, and after you've both spent time together for pretty much every day of those thirteen years, I think there's a problem. It's different when they have subtle hints at romance. It's different when one has an unrequited love for the other. That's not the case here.
And also, that little H and G thing? Nope. I was so confused. I mentally pictured them as little elementary school kids. Not anyone nearly old enough to realize his or her feelings of love for another. Another diversity thing. Sheesh.

And the world. I have a major problem with it. I don't think these rulers would fork over their kids if they knew their kids could die. I wouldn't. And I feel like a single AI ruler is very irrational decision. What if someone kills his program or something? (Is that possible? I lack computer skills, and it shows.) And why is the UN still working? And why exactly did the world end? Was it Mother Nature finally fighting back? Or something else entirely? I was confused. Maybe it's my bad memory or something. I feel like the world was divided between a lot of Causes of The End. And that's confusing for a reader who wants a simple explanation. Especially simple-minded people like me.
And since when can magic-bone-knitter-back-together things exist but not AC? That is not a world I'd live in.



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