Title: The Swan Riders
Author: Erin Bow
Genre: Sci-Fi, YA
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster
Date published: September 20, 2016
Page Count: 376
A physical ARC of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: (Note from Flavia: Please, do not read this summary unless you have already read the prequel, The Scorpion Rules, because there are major major spoilers in this summary!)
Greta Stuart has become AI. New transmitters have silvered her fingerprints. New receptors have transformed her vision. And the whole of her memory has become one book in a vast library of instant knowledge. Greta is ready to rule the world.
But the new technology is also killing her.
Greta is only sixteen years old, but her new enhancements are burning through her mortal body at an alarming rate. Of course the leader of the AIs, an ancient and compelling artificial intelligence named Talis, has a plan. Greta can simply do what he’s done when the time comes, and take over the body of one of the Swan Riders, the utterly loyal humans who serve the AIs as part army, part cult.
First though, Greta will have to find a way to stay sane inside her new self. Talis’s plan for that involves a road trip. Escorted by Swan Riders, Greta and Talis set out on a horseback journey across the strange and not-quite-deserted landscape of Saskatchewan. But there are other people interested in Greta, people who want to change the world…and the Swan Riders might not be as loyal as they appear…
I DID NOT THINK THAT A SEQUEL WOULD DO THE FIRST BOOK JUSTICE, BUT I WAS WRONG!
If you have read my review of The Scorpion Rules, you will know that I was very very impressed with the first book in the Prisoners of Peace series by Erin Bow. I raved about the world building, the characters, the diversity found among said characters, as well as Erin Bow’s writing itself. I was also very happy with the credibility of Erin’s writing, despite the fact that she is describing fictional events which happen 500 years into the fictional future of our world.
I cannot imagine how those who finished The Scorpion Rules when it first came out, and with no sequel confirmed or in sight, because I know that the instant that I finished the first book, I wanted to know more. I wanted to know more about the world which Erin Bow has created, and I wanted to know more about the characters which I found myself loving.
Unlike those who had to wait a year for the next book, I had The Swan Riders at my fingertips, and was able to start reading, the moment I finished the prequel.
Without spoiling anything, I can just say that Bow does not disappoint. The detailed and scientific explications of the mechanical re-appear in this book, and Bow appears to delve even deeper into the world she has created, as well as the advanced technology found therein. She also contemplates human emotion, and the secrets surrounding what it means to be human, quite effectively.
Like The Scropion Rules, this book was also an emotional roller coaster, although in a slightly different way. The pacing is the same, and there were no sections in the book which I found to be “dragging,” although there were some events which developed slowly. Even so, Bow effectively held my attention, and I would have finished the book in one or two days if I had not been so busy (and you can read all about that in my Monthly Wrap-Up post for September, haha)!
Bow also kept me guessing throughout, and I really enjoyed being unable to predict what will happen in the story! In addition, she also managed to wrap the story up, despite it feeling as if it were un-wrap-up-able, haha. There is also potential for the series becoming a trilogy, which is something that I am really hoping for!
The creativity behind this series, as well as the thought which went into telling the story of Greta, Talis, & Co., has just blown my mind!
Highly recommended to lovers of Sci-Fi, dystopian fiction, philosophical contemplation, and of course, adventure!
And as I promised in my review post for The Scorpion Rules, I will discuss the book launch which I was able to attend on September 27th!
Until I was told two Sundays ago that Erin Bow is an author who lives in my town, I had not even considered that such a high profile writer could live so close to me! And when I heard that the book launch for The Swan Riders would be taking place in the uptown of my city, I of course had to attend!
The launch took place in a little, unique, and independently-owned bookstore. I found it to be very quaint, and it will definitely a store which will received business from me in the future. (I was also very ashamed not to have entered said bookstore before, as it is local, and I like to support smaller, independent bookstores as much as I can).
There were about twenty chairs set up, and they filled up rather quickly. Those people who came later, when no more chairs were available, chose to remain standing, rather than leave, and I do not blame them at all.
Not only was Erin Bow present, but also her husband and fellow writer James Bow, as well as Rebecca J. Anderson, and Casey Lyall were also there to launch their books as well! They started the event by having each author read and excerpt from their respective books, before all of the authors would answer some questions formulated by staff and the audience.
Although I was there with my copies of The Scorpion Rules and The Swan Riders, I soon felt ashamed of the fact that I did not have the other authors’ books also! They all sound fantastic, and I will definitely read them as soon as possible!
Note: You can click on each of the books’ images, for a link to their Goodreads pages, in case you want to know more about each of them.
Casey Lyall was the first to read from her new release Howard Wallace, P.I., and I found the reading to be quite amusing. She almost had us crying with laughter a times. Howard is the main character of the middle grade novel, as well as the narrator, and he is one funny guy. Some of Howard’s comments about other characters, or events, made me laugh embarrassingly loud. Luckily, though, most of the audience was laughing just as hard, and I blended in.
Although I don’t read a lot of middle grade fiction, I think that this would be a quick and amusing read. I’ll probably dive into it when I need a mood booster or something. It seems like a good book for an Autumn afternoon.
Next came a reading by Rebecca J. Howard, from the sequel to A Pocket Full of Murder, titled A Little Taste of Poison. I had noticed this book while requesting ARCs from Simon & Schuster earlier this year, but had turned away from it when I’d noticed that it as middle grade.
After hearing the author talk about the book, and then read from it, however, I as kicking myself! The story takes place in an alternate universe Toronto, in which there is magic! Plus there’s also a mystery which the main character is required to solve. This sounds like it’s right up my alley, and I am still kicking myself for not requesting to review this book.
James Bow was next to read from his book, Icarus Down. I really enjoyed hearing about the premise of the book, and I found myself even more interested once James Bow read the first chapter to us. It definitely sounds like my kind of book, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.
He explained to us that the idea for the book came to him in a dream, and I just find it unbelievable that he was able to take a dream and then expand it into a story which can take up the space of a whole novel! It also gives me hope that the same thing may happen with myself and one of my dreams someday as well! Haha.
Then finally, Erin Bow read the first chapter from The Swan Riders, and although I was already part-way into chapter 2 at the time, I really enjoyed hearing the chapter read with Bow’s intonations. This was her book, her story, and I thought it was great that I could hear every pause, and every rise and fall of her voice as she read from The Swan Riders. It made me want to get my book out of my purse and continue reading from where I’d left off, right then and there!
But I resisted, listened to the Questions and Answers being tossed around, and then lined up in order to get my books signed. If you know me well enough, you will know that I’m a bit socially awkward, and therefore it should come as no surprise to you to hear that the closer to the signing table I got, the more nervous I became. It got so bad, that by the time it was my turn, I just blurted out “Hi, it’s Flavia from Twitter.” (We’d talked about the event on Twitter earlier that day, and she’d told me to say hi. Ugh…I’m an embarassment to myself).
But anyway, she was impressed to see that I had an ARC of The Swan Riders, signed my copy of The Scorpion Rules and included a small message, and then also just signed her name in my ARC, because we’re not supposed to keep those, as you may know. And then I decided to ask her the unfair question of, “Which of the characters is your favourite?” Which I instantly regretted, because I myself could not pick a favourite. Then I asked if I was supposed to like Talis as much as I am supposed to, because I wasn’t sure, haha, and luckily R.J. Anderson joined in the conversation and said that she really liked Talis too!
After laughing awkwardly, I then said thank you and made room for the next person in line. I was happy that the friend who’d joined me at the event wanted to go home, because I wanted to hide from the world, haha, and so we went our separate ways, and I curled up with the newly-signed The Swan Riders the moment I got home, eager to get back into the story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Here are 10 things about Erin Bow, as they are listed on her Goodreads profile:
1. I’m a physicist turned poet turned YA novelist.
2. I am world-famous in Canada, which is kind of like being world-famous in real life.
3. I wrote a book about Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy: THE SCORPION RULES, Simon & Schuster Fall 2015
4. I wrote a not-at-all-cute book with a talking cat in it: PLAIN KATE (called WOOD ANGEL in the UK), Scholastic Fall 2010
5. I wrote a book about cat’s cradles that can repel spirit zombies: SORROW’S KNOT, Scholastic Fall 2013
6. All these books will make you either cry on the bus or snort milk out your nose. I am dangerous to your dignity and should be stopped.
7. I think Hufflepuff is the best house, Xander was the best Scoobie, Five was the best Doctor, and Spock was the best everything.
8. I am married to another novelist, and we can actually pay our bills.
9. My daughters want to be scientists.
10. My bookshelves will always be full.
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