Monday, April 9, 2012

The House of the Scorpion

By Nancy Farmer

At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacran asks El Patron’s bodyguard, “How old am I?...I know I don’t have a birthday like humans, but I was born.”

“You were harvested,” Tam Lin reminds him. “You were grown in that poor cow for nine months and then you were cut out of her.”

To most people around him, Matt is not a boy, but a beast. A room full of chicken litter with roaches for friends and old chicken bones for toys is considered good enough for him. But for El Patron, lord of a country called Opium—a strip of poppy fields lying between the U.S. and what was once called Mexico—Matt is a guarantee of eternal life. El Patron loves Matt as he loves himself for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA.

As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister, grasping cast of characters, including El Patron’s power-hungry family. He is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards and by the mindless slaves of Opium.

First thing look up. Do you see those medals? That is a pretty good indication that this book was fantastic and amazing. This book is one of those awesome creations that explores what being human is really about. This book is one great example of how fantasy and science fiction can create a great setting to get a great message across and get kids thinking outside the box about the power of choice and what it means to be accepted. While truly entertaining and engrossing, this book teaches. It follows the life of Matt, the clone of a druglord, and how he discovers who and what he is.  He grows up with everyone treating him like a dog; a disgusting dog.  Only his surrogate mother Celia and his on-loan bodyguard Tam Lin treat him like a real person. Even his only friend treats him more like a beloved pet than a person. This story takes place as Matt learns about the world around him and tries to figure out his place in it.  It's set in a sort of fuzzy future, but it's more about Matt than about any calamitous future, so the details offered are just enough. The characters are wonderful and genuine- good and bad. Great read, so glad I found this one.
4 out of 5

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