THE SCORPION RULES

Erin Bow

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. And you must keep the peace; start a

war and your hostage dies.

Greta will be free if she can survive until her

eighteenth birthday. Until then she is prepared to

die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes

when a new hostage arrives, a boy who refuses to play by the rules,

more …

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. And you must keep the peace; start a

war and your hostage dies.

Greta will be free if she can survive until her

eighteenth birthday. Until then she is prepared to

die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes

when a new hostage arrives, a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy

who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. A boy who opens Greta’s

eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power.

With her nation on the verge of war, Greta becomes a target in a new kind

of game. A game that will end up killing her—unless she can find a way to

break all the rules.

less …
  • Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Hardcover
  • September 2015
  • 384 Pages
  • 9781481442718

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About Erin Bow

Erin Bow is a physicist turned poet turned children’s

novelist—and she’s won major awards in all three roles. She’s the author

of the acclaimed Russian-flavored fantasy Plain Kate, which received two

starred reviews and was a YALSA Best Book of the Year, and the terrifying

YA ghost story Sorrow’s Knot, which received five starred reviews and was

a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year.

Praise

“This is fearfully superlative storytelling—electrical tension crackles in every

elegant word. The finest fiction I’ve read this year.”—Elizabeth Wein,

author of Code Name Verity

“Bow’s amoral artificial intelligence overlord is one of my favorite characters

in a while.”—Maggie Stiefvater, author of The Raven Boys

“One of the most inventive, devious, exciting, and thoroughly enjoyable

books I’ve read in years. Very highly recommended!”—Jonathan Maberry,

New York Times bestselling author of Rot & Ruin

Discussion Questions

What genre would you consider The Scorpion Rules to be?

The Children of Peace have been trained to behave in a

dignified manner, even when they are facing death. Do

you think this training is cruel?

The political conflict in The Scorpion Rules is about access to fresh

water. Discuss whether this seems plausible.

Is Talis a multidimensional character? How does the author present

him as male even though he inhabits a female body?

Greta finds herself falling in love with Xie while she is also drawn to

Elián. Do you think it’s natural that she could care for both of them?

Does it seem to matter in their society?

Discuss the following quote from Chapter 11: “You cannot control a

man if you take everything from him. You must leave him something to

lose.” Is there a certain freedom that comes from being unencumbered?

The Abbot is a Class Two Artificial Intelligence with full rights of

personhood. How does the Abbot demonstrate human qualities?

In Chapter 8, shortly after Elián’s arrival, Greta says, “I had changed.”

How has her relationship with the Abbot and her mother shaped her

character? How has knowing Elián helped cause these changes?

Xie and Elián tell Greta that they think about escaping all the time, but

Greta has never thought about it. Is it because she thinks being a Child

of Peace is her destiny, or is she just resigned to her fate?

As the story progresses, Greta begins to discover and claim her power. Are

you worried that once she has joined Talis she will misuse her authority?

Almost as soon as Cumberlanders invade the Precepture, Tolliver Burr

begins planning Greta’s torture with the apple press. Why is torture

one of the rituals of war? Do you think torture always gets “results”?

Do you agree with Greta that Elián is being stupid for challenging the

status quo, or is he being heroic, like Spartacus?

In Chapter 20, after the Abbot tells Greta there might be an alternative

to dying, she thinks: “Stirring inside me was the kind of fear that

comes with hope.” What does Greta mean? Do you think that hope

can inspire fear?