Monday, October 26, 2015


The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow is one of those books that I wasn't really aware of leading up to its release, and then suddenly everyone I knew was reading it. (Including Clarissa--check out her shelf-talker in Young Adult.) It's a post-near-apocalypse novel, near rather than apocalypse because, on the brink of world catastrophe, a United Nations-operated artificial intelligence named Talis decides enough is enough. He ignores the U.N., bombs a few cities out of existence, makes a few speeches, makes a few rules, and four hundred years later, you have a lot less war...and the Children of Peace.

Greta and the other Children of Peace are the offspring of world leaders, gathered as hostages under the care of a loving but ruthless robot Abbot in former Canada. If any ruler in the world chooses to go to war, their hostage dies. As the book opens, war is looming and Greta is certain of her own death--but danger isn't coming from the direction she expects. The true peril arrives with brash, bewildered Elián, the newest of their number. 

All of the things I loved about this book are wildly big spoilers, so I won't tell you exactly what any of them are. I'll just say that the peril is constant, nailbiting, and real. The relationships that develop are nothing like what I expected. And the the kind of ending you are going to have an opinion about it. I loved it, and I can't wait to read what happens next.

Books to read after, and vice versa: 

Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey -- Amid dangerous rumblings between humans, fairies, and dragons, Tess emerges from a violent and tragic childhood in the woods, into a dangerous, kingless world where witches are burned, and the future is by no means guaranteed to be a romantic and comfortable thing.

Graceling by Kristen Cashore -- The Graceling books are basically superheroes in fantasyland. Gruff, wonderful Katsa's superpower is killing people. Her goal is to wrest control of her life back into her own hands, out of the clutches of people who make her murder for their gain.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins -- You know how it is. Katniss Everdeen, the girl who volunteered, trapped in a game where only one person is supposed to live, and the odds are never in your favor.

Court of Fives by Kate Elliot-- Class politics and family betrayal meet high-risk sports in this complex fantasy, as teenage Jessamy defies her parents and disguises herself to partake in THE FIVES.

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer -- A boy named Matteo discovers he is a clone of the powerful drug lord of the country called Opium, created in case the Patron ever has need of spare parts.

Keeper of the Isis Light by Monica Hughes -- Olwen has lived alone on the planet Isis for years, keeping the lighthouse light that protects passing ships. When other humans land, her own humanity becomes a question.

The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner--I love The Thief, but skip right over it if you're looking for an ideal female lead. The Queen Attolia is ruthless by necessity, having to protect her throne and her life from threats in all directions, by any means necessary. But she's clever, complicated, and by no means heartless. If you like Katsa or Katniss, try Irene.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein -- If you want a brutal and incredible book about steadfast love under interrogation that is somehow for teen you go. Here's the book! I've heard maybe one person ever say that they weren't that into it.

If you go out and read all of these heart-punchers in a row and your emotions cease functioning normally and You Can No Longer Handle This, please come and consult your Brookline Booksmith children's booksellers. We will be happy to prescribe a restorative fluff. Happy reading!

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