oliviasbooks's Reviews > The House of the Scorpion

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
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's review
Sep 06, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: young-adult-fiction, scifi-dystopian-apocalyptic, swapped-or-given-away, read-2012, male-point-of-view
Recommended to oliviasbooks by: Flannery
Read from August 25 to 30, 2012 , read count: 1

Matteo Alacran had been harvested from a cow. He is one of the clones of El Patron, a wealthy and very old poppy farm owner, who had carved out a stripe of landscape between the USA and Mexico to found his small drug-based kingdom Opium, where his and his fellow opium lords' word is the law: The opium, which is grown by eejits, a cheap, human workforce rendered helpless, willfree and robotic by microchips inserted into their brains, makes them practically invincible.

Matt is a perfect - in every sense - example of El Patron's power: The cloning laws dictate that every harvested clone has to receive an injection that mentally disables "it". Yet Matt has been lovingly raised in seclusion by the estate's cook Celia, receives private music and science lessons, after his existence has accidentally been revealed to the repulsed house servants and scheming El Patron's relatives, and is even allowed to entertain the powerful, ancient man he mirrors, who occasionally feeds him cookies and childhood stories.

But of course his painful experiences with hateful reactions have made Matt wary: Will everything stay this way forever? What is the purpose of Matt's excellent education and of Matt at all? What about Celia's haunted look and bodyguard Tam Lim's hints? And what about his friendship to Maria Mendoza? Will he still be allowed to see her when they have grown up?

The House of the Scorpion is more or less a young adult cross between Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey. All three books belong into the category of tales that were shocking - in the positive sense. But while the lack of resistance and the calm acceptance of their fates of the characters had been the factors responsible for the big, cold lump in my guts when I was reading Never Let Me Go, Nancy Farmer shocked me with her cloned hero's well-preserved ignorance, his youth, his innocence, his struggle to discover his identity and his possible worth or worthlessness in comparison to his naturally born peers or the cattle-like eejits, and his efforts to hold fast to those people who refuse to everlook the human being in him.

I recommend this book and I thank Flannery for her recommendation. The time I spent with this story has really been worthwhile.

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Reading Progress

08/25/2012 page 50
08/28/2012 page 86
23.0% "Scary, scary."
08/29/2012 page 136
36.0% "Flannery, this is so depressing."
08/30/2012 page 334
88.0% "Almost done."
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