Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review: The Swan Riders by Erin Bow

*** This is the sequel to The Scorpion Rules. If you have not read that book proceed with caution and be weary of spoilers. Also, totally read The Scorpion Rules because it's fantastic! Here's MY REVIEW ****

Title: The Swan Riders
Series: Prisoners of Peace #2
Written by: Erin Bow
Published: September 20, 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry (Simon & Schuster)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Greta Stuart had always known her future: die young. She was her country's crown princess, and also its hostage, destined to be the first casualty in an inevitable war. But when the war came it broke all the rules, and Greta forged a different path. 

She is no longer princess. No longer hostage. No longer human. Greta Stuart has become an AI. 

If she can survive the transition, Greta will earn a place alongside Talis, the AI who rules the world. Talis is a big believer in peace through superior firepower. But some problems are too personal to obliterate from orbit, and for those there are the Swan Riders: a small band of humans who serve the AIs as part army, part cult. 

Now two of the Swan Riders are escorting Talis and Greta across post-apocalyptic Saskatchewan. But Greta’s fate has stirred her nation into open rebellion, and the dry grassland may hide insurgents who want to rescue her – or see her killed. Including Elian, the boy she saved—the boy who wants to change the world, with a knife if necessary. Even the infinitely loyal Swan Riders may not be everything they seem. 

Greta’s fate—and the fate of her world—are balanced on the edge of a knife in this smart, sly, electrifying adventure.

If you read The Scorpion Rules (and if you didn't why are you reading this review?) then you know it was an absolutely unique and compelling read. The Swan Riders is even more unique and interesting. Erin Bow has once again totally turned why expected on it's head and given us something wholly original.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this book is the character development. Many of the characters we got to know and love in the first book are back and they have amazing development here, particularly Greta and Talis. I loved Talis in the first book and I was excited to see he had a bigger role here. We learn a lot more about him and his history which was fantastic. We also get to see Greta as she makes the transition to AI while attempting to hold on to some of her humanity. It made for interesting development for her as well. And I don't want to say too much but know that Erin Bow does this great thing where she does this kind of role reversal between the two of them and it was amazing and unexpected in the best possible way.

I also really loved what she did with the word here. In the first book I loved how the author created this fascinating hard sci-fi that was pretending to be dystopia. It had this great combination of the two and that was absolutely the case here. And it also took us around the larger world so we got to see some of the things other people are being faced with. It gave context for the rebellion in the first book and expanded on that with a new and different revolt which was interesting and I wish we had gotten a little more from.

But the best part of the world and obviously the real focus of the book was the Swan Riders. Just a small part of the first book we got to learn a lot more about who they are and why they exist which was interesting. Learning more about them also allowed us to explore more about the science and technology of this world which has always been one of my favorite parts and one of the most unexpectedly interesting parts of the series. Plus their actions had a big influence on the plot.

And speaking of this plot, while it was engaging and kept me reading to find out what would happen next it is the thing that didn't really work for me here. There is a lot going on in this book. It continues with plot points that were introduced in the first book and introduces new ones. And it does this at breakneck speed. Which honestly is too fast. There isn't enough time for some of these things to sink in. It feels a little bit like this is a series that should have been a trilogy but ended up as a duology. There were just things that didn't get enough attention for me and some of the resolutions felt simple and forced. And while the ending is satisfying, I would have liked a little more. I'm hoping for a third book to be honest.

But on the whole, The Swan Riders is a good sequel to a complex and unexpected read. It's got a great world with the perfect combination of hard sci-fi and dystopia and characters with great development.

I give The Swan Riders by Erin Bow 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you liked The Scorpion Rules you definitely have to pick this book up. And if you are looking for something totally different that plays with science fiction and dystopian tropes check this series out. It's really great!

Have you read The Swan Riders? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I'm totally starting with The Scorpion Rules as soon as I'm recovered from the Crooked Kingdom book hangover!

    1. YAASSSS!!! I can't wait for you to read it. It might actually be a good series to marathon before The Midnight Star.

      P.S. I know your reading schedule because it's basically the same as mine.