Heather's Reviews > The House of the Scorpion

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
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Mar 23, 10

bookshelves: ls583, young-adult, 2010
Read in March, 2010

Set sometime in the not so distant future, this book takes place in the fictional country of Opium, a new country that was created along the U.S.-Mexico border. Matteo Alacran, known as El Patron, is a drug lord who is over 100 years old. His vast poppy fields are tended by eejits, people who tried to cross the border and were caught and now have their brains altered so they are little more than zombies. El Patron, like many wealthy drug lords, has clones made of himself to supply new body parts as his own elderly body deteriorates. Unlike the other drug lords, El Patron does not alter his clones brains and allows them to have consciousness. Matt, our protagonist is one of El Patron’s clones. He is not treated well by the staff at El Patron’s plantation with the exception of his caretaker, Celia and his bodyguard, Tam Lim. The story unfolds to show Matt growing up as a clone and starting to see the injustice on the plantation. But will he live long enough to make a difference, or will his organs be harvested to extend El Patron’s life?

This is a great book, appropriate for younger readers but sophisticated enough to hold older teens (and even adults!) attention as well. The story is revealed slowly so we learn the truth along with young Matt. El Patron makes a great, complicated villain. He is kind to Matt and talks fondly of his youth, living somewhat in the past. But he is also a cold cruel man who won’t hesitate to maim or kill on a whim.

This story has many great talking points that could fuel a great discussion with teens. Illegal immigration, drug use and legality, slavery and the cloning of humans for harvest are all considered in this book. I highly recommend this book!
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