Review: The Swan Riders by Erin Bow

the-swan-riders The Swan Riders is the sequel to The Scorpion Rules that I didn’t even know existed until I made a little trip to The Strand last year with a friend.  When I saw it, I knew I had to buy it.  The Scorpion Rules was one of the better books I read in 2015.  It’s yet another dystopian novel but this time with a very sassy AI.  It takes place about   500 years in the future after several devastating natural and non-natural disasters. The biggest problem is a shortage of water that has lead to several violent wars.  So the U.N. decided to appoint the A.I. named Talis to come up with a solution.  His solution was to go all medieval on the world.  Every government must give a child as hostage and if they open war on another nation, the hostage dies and oh, a city is going to be blown up too.  At the end of The Scorpion Rules, our heroine Greta, the crown Princess of the PanPol Confederation that covers Canada to Great Britain, volunteers to become an A.I. not save herself but also save Elian, the hostage from the neighboring country that openly declared war on her nation.  It turns out that turning Greta into an A.I. doesn’t sit well with a lot of people.  The new King of PanPol Confederation refuses to give up a new hostage to replace Greta and soon rebellion starts to take hold.  As for Greta herself, the transition from human to A.I. isn’t an easy process.  In fact no many new A.I.’s survive the first couple of days so it’s a race to get Greta to the home of A.I. across Saskatchewan through an open rebellion.  The thing is the rebellion isn’t from the people Talis thinks it from.  Talis, Greta and two Swan Riders race across the country they are attacked and Talis is gravely injured.  Now they all must figure out why he was attacked before he dies and the city of Halifax is destroyed.  In way they have to convinced an A.I. to be more human and a human to be more A.I to change the world.  I’ll admit that I liked the ending of the first book.  I liked the open ending so when I did see the sequel I wasn’t sure how I felt about it beyond I had to read it.  This wasn’t as good as the original but it was still good.  While The Scorpion Rules was fast paced, this one was at times a little sluggish.  It just didn’t have the same flow.  While the main theme of this one is what makes us human and if we take out our human emotions from solving our problems then when do we cross the line of turning into a monster.  Can you really have peace through terror?  The threat of killing off a hostage or destroying entire cities hasn’t stopped countries from declaring war on another.  Maybe there are less conflicts but I wouldn’t say this world was peaceful by any means.  So while Talis rule may have saved billions people statistically but it hasn’t changed the world for the better and everyone needs help now and then.

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