Once there was war, until an artificial intelligence named Talis took over the world.
Four hundred years later, Talis still rules; he has made the world peaceful, but the price is the blood of children. Should a government declare war, its heir, raised in a U.N.– (and Talis-) controlled Precepture, a monasterylike enclave, dies. Greta, Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy, is one of those Children of Peace. When war claims classmate Sidney and his replacement appears in chains, obedient Greta finds herself questioning everything. This is no cookie-cutter dystopia. Talis (whose voice lends a sharp, outsize, and very dark humor to his every word and scene) may not be a bad supreme ruler. The boy (Elián) is not Greta’s love interest (Princess Xie is), and anyway the love story is only a piece of a much larger story about love and war, forms of power, and the question of what is right when there is no good answer, all played out on a small and personal stage. Bow’s writing never falters, from the vivid descriptions of the Precepture goats to the ways in which her characters must grapple with impossible decisions, and she is equally at home with violence and first kisses.
Slyly humorous, starkly thought-provoking, passionate, and compassionate—and impeccably written to boot: not to be missed. (Science fiction. 13 & up)