I don’t usually go for Young Adult Dystopian, but I just read the most amazing book.
The Scorpion Rules is set in a world where global warming sparked as series of brutal resource wars near the end of the 21st century. The United Nations tasked their best and brightest AI, Talis, to come up with a solution. The AI ended up infecting the Earth’s computer-controlled weaponry and taking over the world, implementing a series of laws:
- Combustion engines are banned
- Anyone who starts a major war gets nuked
- Anyone who wants to be general or high-level politician needs to have a child
- The first-born children of all these leaders are raised by the AI’s flunkies in undisclosed locations (though they are allowed to visit a few times a year to build bonds with their families). If two nations start a war, the hostage children are all killed. So you’d better be serious about fighting if you don’t want to talk things out.
Naturally these schools are Circle-type institutions. The students get a premium education, but they are subject to blatant conditioning towards the programs’ ideals.
Into one such school comes a teenaged boy – the grandson of the new President of MURICA, who is too cool for school! So rebellious and not conditioned! Charming to everyone, never giving up or giving in!! Totally ignorant of the destructive impact of his actions have on bystanders!!! Waking up the squares and the sheeple!!!! YEAH MURICA.
BUT. He is not the hero. Or even the love interest.
(Though KID MURICA does have sympathetic motivations and is a likeable guy.)
The hero is the Princess of Halifax, who is maybe definitely certainly going to die because this kid’s country intends to attack not!Canada for access to the Great Lakes. Meeting Kid America wakes her up to some of the uglier realities of her life that she’s been wilfully blind to… but she is still totally prepared to die to enforce the peace. Her quest is not to rebel but to find leverage that will allow her to negotiate an acceptable outcome with MURICA and the all-seeing robot overlords.
I just. I can’t tell you how nice it is to see such a Canadian story in this genre. And maybe it plays to stereotype a bit, but who cares? So do Iron Man and Captain Kirk; that doesn’t mean that Iron Man and Star Trek are garbage.
Now if you excuse me, I have to go read the sequel.