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With undertones of vampires, Frankenstein, dragons' hoards, and killing fields, Matt's story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for teenage fantasy fans. At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacrán asks El Patrón's bodyguard, "How old am I?...I know I don't have a birthday like humans, but I was born." "You were ha With undertones of vampires, Frankenstein, dragons' hoards, and killing fields, Matt's story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for teenage fantasy fans. At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacrán asks El Patrón'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 Patrón, 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 Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA.


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With undertones of vampires, Frankenstein, dragons' hoards, and killing fields, Matt's story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for teenage fantasy fans. At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacrán asks El Patrón's bodyguard, "How old am I?...I know I don't have a birthday like humans, but I was born." "You were ha With undertones of vampires, Frankenstein, dragons' hoards, and killing fields, Matt's story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for teenage fantasy fans. At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacrán asks El Patrón'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 Patrón, 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 Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA.

30 review for The House of the Scorpion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    This book has been on my goodreads shelf since pretty much the beginning of time... so why on earth have I been wasting my time with every other poorly-constructed dystopian world instead of reading this? I have absolutely no excuse: I own a copy, it's won practically every award going, and all my reviewer friends have been constantly singing its praises. Perhaps I am way more influenced by title and cover than I like to admit - though there's nothing actually wrong with either, I still feel This book has been on my goodreads shelf since pretty much the beginning of time... so why on earth have I been wasting my time with every other poorly-constructed dystopian world instead of reading this? I have absolutely no excuse: I own a copy, it's won practically every award going, and all my reviewer friends have been constantly singing its praises. Perhaps I am way more influenced by title and cover than I like to admit - though there's nothing actually wrong with either, I still feel like this doesn't scream at me "awesome dystopian setting + interesting questions about what it means to be human!!". It's good. Really good. If you liked Unwind, then you should also like this. I loved the setting - Mexico - and it was obvious to me that the author was very familiar with Mexican culture and legends, she incorporates a lot of this into the story. I suppose one of the quickest ways to mess up your novel is to write about places and things you don't have a clue about, but I still really wish more authors would try to use different settings. There's a whole world out there that I'm not in a position to explore right now so I like to pretend I'm there by visiting other countries in books. Plus, is it that hard to do a little research on a country's culture, traditions and legends (etc.)? In The House of the Scorpion we are immediately introduced to a boy called Matt who is a clone that was grown in a cow and harvested. The man who shares his DNA is El Patron, the extremely rich head of a huge opium empire and a man with the power to deliver to himself a longer than usual life with the help of clones. Matt's relationship with El Patron is conflicted. On one hand, Matt knows he is evil and corrupt - he plants chips in people's heads to make them obey his orders without question - but Matt also knows that El Patron is himself. They are both intelligent and talented individuals, Matt acknowledges multiple times how alike the two people are. But Matt is treated by others as an animal, they do not see how anything grown in a cow can be human and some of the treatment he endured really pissed me off, never mind the fact that his genetic make-up is identical to El Patron's. Matt questions himself and the world around him throughout the book. He finds it hard to believe that El Patron could possibly mean him harm - because how could you harm yourself? It's also a look at what makes someone human and how easy it is for people to dehumanize and convince themselves that a person is nothing more than an animal. The House of the Scorpion, in my opinion, could only be improved by removing that chunk of story after (view spoiler)[Matt escapes (hide spoiler)] . It felt at odds with the rest of the book and it was clearly the author's attempt to quickly drop in one more big issue - socialism - but it just felt forced and wasn't needed, it's not like we don't already have enough to go on with all the ethical questions flying around in this novel. Take that out and this book would be five stars. But anyway, it's still a really great story about cloning and about humanity that will probably make you want to punch several of the characters at times. But, as with Sisters in Sanity, I seem to like books that make me furious, guess they just make me care more.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This is one of the almost perfect books written for young adults. It is an exciting story that will keep you turning the pages, but it also makes you think about the world we live in. It is a Newbery and Printz honor book and winner of the National Book Award. In the House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer tells the story of Matt, the clone of 142-year-old El Patron, dictator of Opium, a country between the United States and Aztlan. In Opium, clones have one purpose, to extend the lives of those whos This is one of the almost perfect books written for young adults. It is an exciting story that will keep you turning the pages, but it also makes you think about the world we live in. It is a Newbery and Printz honor book and winner of the National Book Award. In the House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer tells the story of Matt, the clone of 142-year-old El Patron, dictator of Opium, a country between the United States and Aztlan. In Opium, clones have one purpose, to extend the lives of those whose DNA they possess by providing them with a source for spare parts. The brains of most other clones are destroyed at birth, but Matt’s is left intact on the orders of El Patron. At the beginning of the novel, Matt knows none of these things. He is cared for in isolation by El Patron’s cook, Celia, who loves him. He only becomes aware that he is different from other people when he becomes a resident at El Patron’s estate where he is viewed not as a human, but as an unclean animal without a soul. Matt is educated and lives in luxury, but is looked on with disgust by most of the estate’s inhabitants. The exceptions are Celia, El Patron’s bodyguard Tam Lin, and Maria, one of the children who discovered him. These three people see the humanity in him and teach him to be a good person. Farmer does a masterful job of creating the world that Matt lives in from the cloning technology to the old fashioned ways on the estate which is designed to replicate the Mexico of El Patron’s youth over 100 years ago. El Patron has made his fortune capturing Mexicans attempting to cross the border into the United States and using them to grow opium. To ensure that they don’t escape, implants in their brains make them completely devoid of free will to the extent that they will not eat or drink without being told to do so. The threat of being turned in to one of these “eejits” is sufficient to allow El Patron to control others. The reader’s interest is sustained by discovering along with Matt and from his point of view, the workings Opium, his purpose in life, and his ultimate fate. With the help of Celia and Tam Lin, he escapes to Aztlan where he is no longer treated as subhuman, but is captured and forced to labor with other orphans under the control of guards called “keepers” who relentlessly practice behavioral control methods to keep the young workers at the plankton factory in line. This is a coming of age story with a difference. House of the Scorpion is a chilling story because Farmer portrays a world that just may be possible. Cloning is already a reality. There are people in today’s world just as invisible to the larger society as the orphans. Child slavery exists. Environmental degradation is occurring. Matt’s escape from his future as a clone gives that reader hope that good will prevail in this world as well.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    A really hit and miss book, with some terrific ideas and terrible plotting. The main character, Matt, is a clone of the world's biggest drug kingpin, the 140+ year-old El Patron. Matt lives in El Patron's sprawling estate and is hated by most of the residents there, aside from his care-taker Celia and El Patron himself, who is raising Matt for his own sinister reasons. Soon, these reasons are revealed and Matt's only hope is to escape. This felt like it should have been at least twice as long. The A really hit and miss book, with some terrific ideas and terrible plotting. The main character, Matt, is a clone of the world's biggest drug kingpin, the 140+ year-old El Patron. Matt lives in El Patron's sprawling estate and is hated by most of the residents there, aside from his care-taker Celia and El Patron himself, who is raising Matt for his own sinister reasons. Soon, these reasons are revealed and Matt's only hope is to escape. This felt like it should have been at least twice as long. The author, Nancy Farmer has developed an intriguing world, extrapolating from the US and Mexico's current problems with drugs, illegal immigration, and pollution, and also addresses ethical and legal issues around cloning. However, as compelling as this world is, it never feels real or adequately developed, and she has a ridiculous habit of explaining important aspects of how the world she has created operates at just the time they become pertinent to the plot. The characters are a mixed bag as well: they're likable and believable except when they're not, and turn from fully-realized creations to cardboard cut-outs whenever they have to do something that advances the story. This isn't to say that I didn't like the book, necessarily. It was a great coming of age story, and I think that young teenagers will really enjoy the characters and the action. This book also won a whole mess of awards, which admittedly may color my reaction to it. I just wish that more time had been spent developing the characters, the world, and the mess of ideas that were introduced.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    The House of the Scorpion is really unlike any YA/middle grade book I've ever read. It's extremely philosophical and thought-provoking, covering topics of the soul, identity, and human rights in a very intriguing way. It takes place in some distant future where there is a land between the U.S. and Mexico that grows poppies for opium. The main character Matt is a clone of the leader of the nation named El Patron. El Patron seems kind and generous, giving his clone an education and privileges that The House of the Scorpion is really unlike any YA/middle grade book I've ever read. It's extremely philosophical and thought-provoking, covering topics of the soul, identity, and human rights in a very intriguing way. It takes place in some distant future where there is a land between the U.S. and Mexico that grows poppies for opium. The main character Matt is a clone of the leader of the nation named El Patron. El Patron seems kind and generous, giving his clone an education and privileges that other clones are not usually afforded. But as Matt gets older he begins to learn more about his life and his country's history that conflicts with what he has been told. It's a tale of coming-of-age set against a survival/dystopian storyline with really complex material. I would be wary of giving this book to young readers, as it can be a bit graphic at times and deals with some sensitive issues. But I can imagine reading this book in middle school and having really great discussions surrounding it. Apparently there is a sequel that I was told you don't have to read to get the whole story, but I'm very curious to see what happens next. So I plan on picking that one up eventually. For fans of The Chaos Walking Trilogy and other dystopian/sci-fi/survival stories, this is a really great read, and I would recommend it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    As seen on The Readventurer Flannery made me do it and I am pleased that she did. I have no idea why I've been avoiding The House of the Scorpion for so long. Just look at its accolades - National Book Award Winner, Printz Honoree, Newbery Honoree. It practically has my name written on it. But, is The House of the Scorpion worth such an overwhelming acclaim though? I'd say, its first 215 pages and the last 20 are (ebook edition). The first two thirds of the book are riveting. This story is not just As seen on The Readventurer Flannery made me do it and I am pleased that she did. I have no idea why I've been avoiding The House of the Scorpion for so long. Just look at its accolades - National Book Award Winner, Printz Honoree, Newbery Honoree. It practically has my name written on it. But, is The House of the Scorpion worth such an overwhelming acclaim though? I'd say, its first 215 pages and the last 20 are (ebook edition). The first two thirds of the book are riveting. This story is not just a clone story. (For some reason, the majority of stories about clones focus on exactly the same things.) Yes, it is horrifying in how it examines the (familiar) debate about a clone's humanity and soulless(ful)ness. Matt is a clone and is defined by people around him as livestock, a source of body parts, and not a human being. (How can he be human if he was grown in and harvested from a cow?) Nancy Farmer takes Matt's character on a journey of self-discovery and self-awareness that allows him to accept that he is not what he is told he is, that he is as much of a human being as any person around him. It is a compelling journey, even though its sentiment isn't particularly new to me - I've read Never Let Me Go and watched The Island. But, thankfully, there is more to distinguish The House of the Scorpion from similar stories. First, the novel is set in Mexico (well, a future version of it). This country's life is written richly and authentically and never feels like just an exotic backdrop. I am no expert on Mexican culture though, so I might have felt that in awe of it as portrayed in The House of the Scorpion because of the narrator of the audio, who infused Mexican flavor into the story most organically. Second, this is a story of a drug lord and his enslaved family. El Patrón feels he is owed a few generations worth of life, and he will stop at nothing to get what he thinks he is entitled to. Cloning is a part of his plan for immortality. It's in Matt's relationship with his master and owner where the story shines the most. How would a clone feel about the person who is identical to him, the source of his life? Would he be able to hate him, essentially hating himself? If a clone's genetic make-up is similar to that of a ruthless criminal, does it mean that this clone is destined to follow the same path and become the same vicious person? Or is there a way to break away from the prototype? And how would a master feel about his own clone? Would it be possible for him to treat this younger version of himself as an organ bank, or there exists a connection that is closer than even that between a father and a child? These questions had my brain working, and this part of the book was 5-star material for me. But then came the escape part, in the last third of the book, and I found myself struggling with it. I was bored, I didn't feel like those pages (3-months of Matt's life worth) connected well thematically with the overreaching story arc, I didn't think they were necessary, I didn't think that a whole set of new characters (including villains) needed to be introduced so late in the story, and I surely didn't think that anti-socialist rants needed to come into play. (How did they relate to Matt's journey?) I thought, those pages only occupied time with no real bearing on the rest of the novel. To me, those 80 pages could have been completely cut out. Thankfully, the ending did save The House of the Scorpion. It happens so infrequently in books, but it did bring the story full circle to El Patrón, and it was satisfying. But that big chunk of the novel, unfortunately, made me much less willing to recommend it, even though during the first part of the book I kept thinking this novel would be a great fit for fans of Unwind. I might reread The House of the Scorpion in future, but I'll be sure to skip over a big part of it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Neal Shusterman

    One of the best young adult novels I've ever read. One of the best young adult novels I've ever read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The House of the Scorpion (Matteo Alacran #1), Nancy Farmer The story is set in the country of Opium, a narrow strip of land between Mexico, and the United States, which is ruled by Matteo Alacran, or El Patron, an incredibly powerful drug lord who is over 140 years old. Opium consists of several drug-producing Farms, of which the Alacran estate (which produces opium poppies) is the largest. The protagonist, Matt, is a clone of El Patron. For the first six years of his life, he lives in a small h The House of the Scorpion (Matteo Alacran #1), Nancy Farmer The story is set in the country of Opium, a narrow strip of land between Mexico, and the United States, which is ruled by Matteo Alacran, or El Patron, an incredibly powerful drug lord who is over 140 years old. Opium consists of several drug-producing Farms, of which the Alacran estate (which produces opium poppies) is the largest. The protagonist, Matt, is a clone of El Patron. For the first six years of his life, he lives in a small house on the edge of the poppy fields with Celia, a cook working in El Patron's mansion. When he is discovered by three children, Emilia and Steven and Maria, he smashes a window and jumps out of the house. Unaware of the danger of jumping barefoot onto smashed glass, he has to be carried to El Patron's mansion and treated for his injuries. Matt is treated kindly until Mr. Alacrán, El Patron's great-grandson, recognizes him as a clone, resulting in a few months where he is locked in a room and treated like an animal. When he finds out, El Patron is furious, but gives Matt clothes and his own room and commands everyone to treat him with respect. Matt is also given a bodyguard, Tam Lin, a reformed terrorist, who becomes a father figure to him. He lives in the house for the next seven years and befriends Maria, a friendship that gradually blossoms into romance. Matt is kept in the dark about his identity, however, until a cruel joke reveals to him that he is a clone. Matt also discovers that all clones are supposed to be injected when "harvested" (born) with a compound that cripples their brains and turns them into little more than thrashing, drooling animals meant to donate organs. In denial, he convinces himself that El Patron would not hire tutors for him and keep him entertained if he were intending to kill him, and that instead he must be wanted to run the country when El Patron dies. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هشتم ماه ژانویه سال 2005 میلادی عنوان: خ‍ان‍ه‌ ع‍ق‍رب‌؛ نویسنده: ن‍ان‍س‍ی‌ ف‍ارم‍ر‏‫؛ م‍ت‍رج‍م‌ وی‍دا اس‍لام‍ی‍ه‌؛ تهران، نشر علم، 1383؛ در 543 ص؛ شابک: 9644053931؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 21 م شخصیت اصلی این داستان علمی تخیلی پسر بچه‌ ای ست، به نام «میتو آلاکران»، که به طور غیر طبیعی متولد شده است. او در اصل، از سلول زنده‌ ی انسان دیگری ست، که پس از کشت دادن در بدن یک گاو، به وجود آورده‌ اند. اکثر اطرافیان «مت - متیو آلاکران» او را نه یک پسر بچه، بلکه یک جانور می‌دانند. در اتاقی پر از خاک اره‌ در یک مرغدانی، زندگی می‌کند، جز سوسک‌ها دوستی ندارد، و بهترین اسباب‌ بازی‌هایش، استخوان‌های مانده‌ ی مرغها هستند. اما از نظر «ال پاترون»، فرمانروای کشوری به نام «تریاکستان»، باریکه‌ ای از مزارع خشخاش، که در ناحیه‌ ای میان ایالات متحده‌ ی آمریکا و کشوری واقع شده، که روزگاری «مکزیک» نام داشته است، «مت» در حکم ضمانتی برای زندگی ابدی اوست. «ال پاترون» همانقدر که خودش را دوست میدارد، «مت» را نیز دوست دارد، چرا که «مت» خود ایشانست. «دی.ان.آی.» آن‌ها کاملا یکسان است. «مت» برای درک هستی خویش، با تهدید‌های گروهی از شخصیت‌های شوم، روبرو می‌شود، که خانواده‌ ی تشنه به قدرت «ال پاترون» نیز، در میان این گروه هستند. دور تا دور او را، سپاهی از محافظین خطرناک، و همچنین برده‌ های بی‌عقلی گرفته‌ اند، که ابلهانی مرده مغز هستند، و در مزارع خشخاش «تریاکستان» کشت و زرع می‌کنند. حتی فرار از قلمرو «آلاکران» نیز، برای «مت»، آزادی را به ارمغان نمی‌آورد. زیرا رفتار و شخصیت متفاوتش، او را در میان دیگران انگشت‌ نما می‌کند. ا. شربیانی

  8. 4 out of 5

    Wicked Incognito Now

    I HATED IT, and hated it on so many levels I truly do not know where to begin. First of all, I will acknowledge one aspect of the story that I found positive. This is the story of Matt, a clone. Matt is raised in a shack on the opium plantation of drug lord, El Patron. He is El Patron's clone, grown for the purpose of being spare body parts for El Patron. In this world (the near future), clones are considered property, livestock. The embroyos are implanted in cows, so the people of this world hav I HATED IT, and hated it on so many levels I truly do not know where to begin. First of all, I will acknowledge one aspect of the story that I found positive. This is the story of Matt, a clone. Matt is raised in a shack on the opium plantation of drug lord, El Patron. He is El Patron's clone, grown for the purpose of being spare body parts for El Patron. In this world (the near future), clones are considered property, livestock. The embroyos are implanted in cows, so the people of this world have come to the conclusion that anything born from cows is not human. After they are "born," their brains are purposely damaged so that the people can further consider these clones as beasts instead of human abominations of nature. This campaign of dehumanization has resonance throughout history. The Jews, the enslaved Africans in America, any person of possible Arab descent today....all of these races have undergone a campaign of dehumanization. Those in power subtly manipulated the general population until that population was able to excuse widespread cruelty in their own minds. We always look at those historical periods with disgust and wonder how anyone could ever accept that level of cruelty, and yet it happens over and over again throughout history. A few reasons why I did NOT like this novel: 1. The author cannot seem to find her main point or theme. If her theme is the importance of individuality, I think she fails. The book ends with something that complete negates a theme that highlights the importance of individuality---so it can't be that. 2. The author's knowledge of cloning is all wrong. She attempts to sway her audience against the entire IDEA without fully understanding the concept. Clones would not be exact copies of their DNA donors. Environment is almost as largely responsible for who we are as our DNA is. At one point, I think she is going to explore this knowledge further, but I ended up being convinced that she just doesn't KNOW that even PHYSICAL traits are affected by environmental factors. Fingerprints are even affected by the force and pressure of things happening in the womb. Identical twins have the same DNA, and yet they are not identical. The same basic principles apply to clones. So, the thing that happens at the end...impossible. 3. The plot is all over the place. It has no direction. 4. The characterizations are flat. The emotions are hollow. The reader has no background for anyone, or sense of setting. 5. The author breaks the cardinal rule of writing: "Show! Don't tell!!" She tells and tells and tells, but never SHOWS us anything. For instance, we are TOLD that the character of Steven is "okay." He's apparently the one character in this drug lord's family that is not evil. Yet, we are not SHOWN this. Why is Steven "okay?" How does Matt know this? Then, when Steven betrays Matt, are we supposed to be appalled? We have no emotional attachment to Steven. Why did we think he WOULDN'T betray Matt? 6. Like I said, there is no continuity. No over-arching theme. After leaving the compound, Matt goes to another country. Once there it seems that this story is devolving into a diatribe on socialism. Which, irritated me INCREDIBLY. I couldn't be more sick of this "evils of socialism" storyline. However, at least going on about socialism was giving this novel a POINT!!!! YET, it didn't commit to the evil socialism theme. It turned out that the government was something else entirely. So, I don't know what that bit about the socialist orphanage was. It was completely out of place. Then....the story devolved further....and went a place that left me completely flummoxed and angry that I wasted my time with this horrible written dreck (Matt at one point says: I was, quite literally, the underdog. Oh really Ms. Author? Was he LITERALLY an underdog? Not figuratively?). Ultimately, I am most angry that this type of fiction is winning awards. That our children are assigned badly-written propaganda to read in high school English instead of quality literature.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Flannery

    This book is great because: 1. It is a young adult book about, I kid you not, every social policy and -ism you can think of--drugs, slavery, cloning, classism, socialism, EVERYTHING 2. I read all 400 or something pages in a day 3. The story is really unique and I wasn't really sure what was going to happen Anyways, it is basically the story of the clone of the biggest drug lord in a country solely made up of drug farms. A few people on the book's goodreads page mentioned that the writing was not ama This book is great because: 1. It is a young adult book about, I kid you not, every social policy and -ism you can think of--drugs, slavery, cloning, classism, socialism, EVERYTHING 2. I read all 400 or something pages in a day 3. The story is really unique and I wasn't really sure what was going to happen Anyways, it is basically the story of the clone of the biggest drug lord in a country solely made up of drug farms. A few people on the book's goodreads page mentioned that the writing was not amazing but, to tell the truth, I never really noticed. And I read. A lot. Some of the female characters are a little bit annoying but that won't stop me from recommending this book to most of my reader friends.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kylee

    DUMBEST BOOK EVER!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Esther

    Recommended to me by my teenaged son, the book had a promising start and an interesting middle, but it all kind of fell apart towards the end and finished with a very unsatisfying ending. I liked the ideas presented about prejudice and predetermination vs. self-determination, and about the relative values of evil. The book is chock-full of evil-doers, some of whom are despicable, some of whom are loved, and one, the most interesting character of them all, Tam Lin, who is a compelling mixture of Recommended to me by my teenaged son, the book had a promising start and an interesting middle, but it all kind of fell apart towards the end and finished with a very unsatisfying ending. I liked the ideas presented about prejudice and predetermination vs. self-determination, and about the relative values of evil. The book is chock-full of evil-doers, some of whom are despicable, some of whom are loved, and one, the most interesting character of them all, Tam Lin, who is a compelling mixture of sin and repentance, loyalty and betrayal, an evil-doer who also manages to be a good man. It felt like after presenting all her ideas and laying out the moral dilemmas, the author kind of ran out of steam and dashed off an ending that, I suppose, she figured would tie up all the loose ends, but really leaves just about everything hanging. For instance, in a workhouse/orphanage setting that makes the Dickens orphans look positively privileged (at least they get genuine gruel), we are let to believe that all abuses will be corrected once one of the orphans manages to get word out that they are being mistreated. I guess the world would be a much better place than is portrayed in this book (or in reality, for that matter) if that was all it took to overcome evil and corruption.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Reynje

    But underneath Matt felt a hollowness. He understood he was only a photograph of a human, and that meat he wasn’t really important. Photographs could lie forgotten in drawers for years. They could be thrown away. You know that moment just before you’ve entirely woken up, when you’re dreaming, but you’re conscious that you’re dreaming, so you’re hovering somewhere between sleep and wakefulness? (view spoiler)[Or is that just me? (hide spoiler)] That’s the closest I can get to describing the e But underneath Matt felt a hollowness. He understood he was only a photograph of a human, and that meat he wasn’t really important. Photographs could lie forgotten in drawers for years. They could be thrown away. You know that moment just before you’ve entirely woken up, when you’re dreaming, but you’re conscious that you’re dreaming, so you’re hovering somewhere between sleep and wakefulness? (view spoiler)[Or is that just me? (hide spoiler)] That’s the closest I can get to describing the experience of reading The House of the Scorpion. The world of this book blends the familiar with the strange, the safe with the sinister, in a singularly unsettling and powerful way. It took me some time to reach that conclusion. Throughout large parts of this book, I felt almost disconnected - held at arm’s length by the characters and struggling against the slow pace of the plot. As a reader who generally prefers emotionally immersive books, I found myself at something of a loss as to define how I felt about this one. I still do, to an extent. What was clear, after I finished The House of the Scorpion, was that it was lingering with me. I was still thinking about the characters and the things that had happened to them, but most of all, the extremely disquieting questions this story poses. At the risk of sounding like I just want to get out of writing a synopsis, (view spoiler)[which is also true, (hide spoiler)] in my opinion the less known about this story before approaching it the better. Farmer chooses to tell her story in a particular manner, peeling back layer upon layer to reveal the frightening realities of what initially appears to be a quite familiar world. This novel takes on complex subjects. Presents difficult scenarios. Gives you a false sense of security then pulls the floor out from under you. Asks you to question the characters, the world, even yourself. Relentlessly demands that you don’t just read this book, but that you be consumed by it’s central paradox. Matteo is El Patron. But are there infinite possible versions of the exact same person? How much of who we are is written into out genetic code and how much is shaped by external things? How does choice factor into the way we develop, and what if those choices are never presented? (view spoiler)[Am I thinking about this too much? (hide spoiler)] The House of the Scorpion does require you to just roll with it, for want of a better expression, with respect to some elements of the story. But for me, it was this shifting from the firmly realistic to the speculative that gave this book the slightly surreal atmosphere that I came to enjoy. I do think that given the nature of some of the events (and I apologise for being deliberately vague her - actually for the whole vagueness of this review in general), I should have felt closer, more emotionally involved in the story. While I did become entirely engaged in the plot, I can’t say that this was due to a particular sense of connection with the characters. I wanted to feel more invested in them, yet I just… wasn’t. That said, I can’t deny that this is a powerful book. It’s quite unlike anything I’ve read before, and it wasn’t what I was expecting. But it’s a thought provoking, quietly intense story that well-deserves it’s recognition.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Zoë

    The house of the Scorpion is a book about a clone named Matteo Alacran. He was cloned from El Patron and harvested from a cow. His mother like figure is a woman named Celia. When Matteo, "Matt" lives with Celia he doesn't understand that he is different from everyone else. When he is brought from his little house in the poppy field to "The Big House," his life changes for the better and worse. He meets a girl he likes, named Maria, who also likes him, but he is treated like dirt from all of the The house of the Scorpion is a book about a clone named Matteo Alacran. He was cloned from El Patron and harvested from a cow. His mother like figure is a woman named Celia. When Matteo, "Matt" lives with Celia he doesn't understand that he is different from everyone else. When he is brought from his little house in the poppy field to "The Big House," his life changes for the better and worse. He meets a girl he likes, named Maria, who also likes him, but he is treated like dirt from all of the other people living in the house. For six months he lives like an animal, until the day Maria's father sends El Patron a letter explaining to him what has been happening to his clone. When El Patron comes to "The Big House", everything is changed, and whenever El Patron is around Matt, he is treated like a regular person, but when he is gone, Matt is back to being treated like dirt. This is a book that is full of suspense, action, mystery, and even a bit of horror. This book will make you cry and make you laugh, but no matter what you will definitely enjoy this book. I am not a reader, and I love this book even though it is so long. This is probably the best book I have read in a very long time and I suggest this book to everyone. This is a fictional book, but it is written so well that even though you know everything is fake, you still feel so bad for Matt. When your reading this book it's so intense so you feel like you are part of the book, and that is my opinion of The house of the Scorpion.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jason Kurtz

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. See the RACK of medals of the cover of this book? A friend told me she felt this novel changed the face of science-fiction. High praise indeed. I didn't buy the hype, and still have issues with the extremely slow start of this novel. It has been sitting on my desk for almost two years (no lie) and I finally read it. After the first 80 pages of slow moving material, I finally became vested in the characters and thought the novel finally caught on. I think this novel probably doe Yeah, yeah, yeah. See the RACK of medals of the cover of this book? A friend told me she felt this novel changed the face of science-fiction. High praise indeed. I didn't buy the hype, and still have issues with the extremely slow start of this novel. It has been sitting on my desk for almost two years (no lie) and I finally read it. After the first 80 pages of slow moving material, I finally became vested in the characters and thought the novel finally caught on. I think this novel probably does change the face of Sci-Fi for MG audiences, because the novel tackles some pretty high-brow concepts (modern slavery, cloning, organ harvesting, Communism, Marxism, Drugs and drug trafficking, addiction, adoption, forgiveness) and like Lois Lowry's book The Giver Farmer does not shy away from these complexities. I appreciated the way that Farmer finishes the book, unlike Lowry who closes with ambiguity, Farmer lays it all out on the table. Sequel??? I also predicted the ending with about 200 pages left to go in this book, which I guess is okay because I am a Sci-Fi aficionado and not a sixth-grader. The book for me as an adult probably would get a 3.5 stars, but I thought Farmer handled the material for her intended audience very well, hence the five star rating.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Newton

    I read this to preview for future class use, and I'm very enthusiastic about possibly using it as a whole-class read in the future. It's chockfull of great issues to be explored in class discussions and writing assignments. Best of all, it is a compelling story that will definitely engage even our more reluctant readers. In addition to that, I enjoyed it personally. Farmer creates a dystopian world that is believable due to the fact that it is based on so many of the issues we are dealing with to I read this to preview for future class use, and I'm very enthusiastic about possibly using it as a whole-class read in the future. It's chockfull of great issues to be explored in class discussions and writing assignments. Best of all, it is a compelling story that will definitely engage even our more reluctant readers. In addition to that, I enjoyed it personally. Farmer creates a dystopian world that is believable due to the fact that it is based on so many of the issues we are dealing with today: illegal drugs, powerful drug cartels, illegal immigration, and cloning. It also addresses more universal themes such as the desire for acceptance, the effects of loneliness and isolation, the limits of love and loyalty, etc. Our kids would not find it hard, I believe, to make the connections between the themes in this book and those of the classic literature we read. We would also be able to explore these topics in more depth through non-fiction pieces during our research unit. Aside from the bounty of educational uses, it's just a great story that keeps you turning the pages! I'd like to read the sequel and see what happens next. That really says it all, doesn't it?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Holley

    I do not love being in the desert, but I think I do love reading about other people being in the desert. Is that schadenfreude? I guess I kind of like reading anyone who really has the feel of a setting, and I think Nancy Farmer has that here. This was desolate and full of desert flowers, and just enough mystery and elusive environmental contamination to set the scene for a lovely dystopian world. This was a wonderful, scary, heartwarming, chilling, inspiring story. While I was reading this, I ke I do not love being in the desert, but I think I do love reading about other people being in the desert. Is that schadenfreude? I guess I kind of like reading anyone who really has the feel of a setting, and I think Nancy Farmer has that here. This was desolate and full of desert flowers, and just enough mystery and elusive environmental contamination to set the scene for a lovely dystopian world. This was a wonderful, scary, heartwarming, chilling, inspiring story. While I was reading this, I kept wondering if maybe I was experiencing some of the pleasure other people get from Wither. Like Wither, this one had that genetic-manipulation future, with redesigned geography, and some gadgets, but still a mostly familiar setting. But, this one wasn’t stupid; it was really smart and amazing. It questions science, religion, politics, the nature of friendship, the nature of power. This book follows the main character, Matt, a clone, through his childhood, as he experiences isolation, torture, rejection, lavish gifts and education, friendship, mentoring, and daring adventures. A lot of books feel like the author thinks her audience is an idiot, so she slooooows the character’s perception of the world down and throws in neon arrows with every reveal. This didn’t feel like that, and it was refreshing to read. Matt was smart, and he caught on to what went on around him quickly, or if he didn’t, it was because he was purposefully, and justifiably ignoring it for emotional preservation. Even if he wouldn’t acknowledge what was happening, Farmer still expected the reader to be in the know. And we were. Most of the time. Although I have to admit that a couple of times I was like, Wait WHAT??? Ohhhhhh!!!! But, that only made it more fun. I only have two complaints, having to do with the reductionist political messages I think are here in two places. First, there is a part where the eeeeeevil drug lord, El Patron, (view spoiler)[takes the brains of clone babies and Science inserts them into his brain to help him live longer (hide spoiler)] . That felt like a cheap dig at stem-cell research, to me. The book doesn’t dwell on it or make it a big point, but I feel like that is a complex issue, and it was a simplistic way to address it. My second complaint is somewhat similar. Many people have complained that the last section of the book feels like an odd tack-on to the rest of the story. I agree to some extent, and I think it could have just as easily been its own book and worked better (like, if House of the Scorpion ended at Tam Lin taking Matt out, and the next book started with him at the oasis). But, I don’t really have a problem with it because, even though it was slower, I still really enjoyed it and all of the characters and the friendships with the boys. The thing I didn’t care for was the reductionist eeeeeevil of the socialist Keepers. That seemed a little easy and silly. With both of those complaints, I feel like the topics are serious enough that they deserve a more complex characterization. Like, if you characterize your enemy as a moron, doesn’t that in some way reduce you to your enemy’s level and make you a moron, too, just for arguing with a moron? But, especially with new scientific and political problems, I think it benefits both sides of an argument to see the value, or at least the complexity, in an issue. Anyway, those things didn’t really bother me that much, they were just minor issues. Overall, the story and characters were just wonderful. Cecelia and her bedtime stories, Tam Lin’s spelling, Maria’s Saint Francis, Chacho’s sympathy, Ton-ton’s slow reasoning. I loved them all. This was a really brilliant story. Straight, edge-of-my-seat fun. ________________________ I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for nothing.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    I'm so happy that I've been reading such unique books lately! Before now I had heard of this book, as is normal since it's quite old, but I had no idea what it was about. I saw it recently at the library and read the blurb and it interested me so when I found it really cheap at a used bookstore I decided to buy it. I'm glad I did! I really enjoyed it. The setting is probably my favourite part. I love that it's pretty much in Mexico. I feel like there are a lack of books that are set in Mexico and I'm so happy that I've been reading such unique books lately! Before now I had heard of this book, as is normal since it's quite old, but I had no idea what it was about. I saw it recently at the library and read the blurb and it interested me so when I found it really cheap at a used bookstore I decided to buy it. I'm glad I did! I really enjoyed it. The setting is probably my favourite part. I love that it's pretty much in Mexico. I feel like there are a lack of books that are set in Mexico and it was refreshing to read a little bit about their culture and urban legends and things. This book is such a great fantasy book. I love the eejits, the idea of clones and everything else. It's futuristic but doesn't feel that way at all. It felt like it could have been modern day. The characters were also great. Matt was such a precious child and I felt so bad for him so much throughout the book. His life was so tragic and sad. Celia is another character I love because she was so loving and Tam Lin was probably my favourite minor character. The antagonists in this book are so well written because I was so frustrated with them the entire time I read the book! My one and only problem was Ton Ton's dialogue. The author kept including random "uh" in the middle of every sentence and I didn't understand what they were meant to be? Maybe a stutter or something but either way it would lose the flow of the book for me. Thankfully he was not in a lot of the book but I am hoping that by the second book this will be easier to read or less of an issue for Ton Ton. Such a creative and unique book! Book Challenge book #37 - A Book Set In The Future

  18. 4 out of 5

    Evgeny

    First things first: I need to mention I received this book in Goodreads giveaways. I also need to mention that the real rating for this book is 3.5 stars as it is better than the majority of the books I rated with 3 stars, but it does not quite reach 4-star rating. I never felt more strongly about having 0.5 star rating on Goodreads since I joined it. The plot: Matteo Alacran (Matt most of the time) is a clone of a very powerful drug lord El Patron who was created to provide replacement organs f First things first: I need to mention I received this book in Goodreads giveaways. I also need to mention that the real rating for this book is 3.5 stars as it is better than the majority of the books I rated with 3 stars, but it does not quite reach 4-star rating. I never felt more strongly about having 0.5 star rating on Goodreads since I joined it. The plot: Matteo Alacran (Matt most of the time) is a clone of a very powerful drug lord El Patron who was created to provide replacement organs for the latter. The problem was, El Patron also wanted to have somebody who reminded him about his childhood - and who is the better candidate than his own clone? As a result Matt's brain was not destroyed unlike other clones' that were created for other people. So we have an intelligent almost-but-not-quite human being on one hand and people who regard Matt as something lower than an animal on the other hand. It does not help any that El Patron's clan members hate each other - and everybody else for that matter. The book raises a lot of interesting and important questions: cloning, slavery, free will, drug use - just to name a few. The plot itself is interesting if slow in the beginning and way too fast in the end. Now for the bad parts: the characters that surround Matt at El Patron's residence are all two-dimensional without exceptions. Matt himself is a typical Mary Sue, I always thought about Oliver Twist when I read the first part of the book. Once the book switches to other places, we finally get interesting people and interactions between them - other than just blind hate. I already mentioned plot moving way too slow in the beginning and being rushed in the end. I can actually point to the particular place in the text where the author decided it is time to wrap up everything; the result is that the end feels very simplistic and unfinished. All in all this is not a bad book, but I expected it to be much better from the amount of awards it received. It did not help any that I was reading an adult dystopia book at the same time which had more depth.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    Initial reaction: I'm pretty much at a loss for words at this point in time because I didn't expect this story to grip me as much as it did. Following Matt's journey in the course of this book was one full of many ups and downs, tragedies as well as triumphs, and I honestly haven't come across many MG/YA dystopian novels that were as well done as this. Full review: Nancy Farmer's "The House of the Scorpion" was a story that took years for me to pick up since its original publication date. Seriousl Initial reaction: I'm pretty much at a loss for words at this point in time because I didn't expect this story to grip me as much as it did. Following Matt's journey in the course of this book was one full of many ups and downs, tragedies as well as triumphs, and I honestly haven't come across many MG/YA dystopian novels that were as well done as this. Full review: Nancy Farmer's "The House of the Scorpion" was a story that took years for me to pick up since its original publication date. Seriously, I think I had every barrier there was trying to pick up this book to read because it was either that I'd had other reading in an academic measure to do over it, or somehow it was always checked out or unavailable at my library or bookstore. Yet on a spontaneous trip to the library one evening when browsing the shelves, when I wasn't even looking for it, I found it. Picking it up and reflecting upon it now has me kicking myself mentally for not reading it sooner, because...there are relatively very few novels I can say that blew me away in the reading of them. In the sense of taking my attention, gripping me along for the journey in the eyes of the perspective character, and running the gauntlet all the way until the last page. And there are relatively few narratives that I stop to savor every page because the writing and the characters connect with me so much that I don't want it to end. This novel was one of those books for me personally. The main character of this novel, Matt, has a difficult journey for him from the very get go of things. He's the only clone to survive in the batch of cells cultivated from a very powerful, but elderly drug lord. The story follows him from birth to the age of 14, and it's hard not to be taken by his respective development over those years and experiences. He's a fascinating character to watch in the duration of this novel - for how funny, charming, sincere, and even in the moments where he feels the heaviest sense of pain. The amount of hardship he endures, the hatred put against him for what he is and what he represents, the conflicted feelings he has about his own identity and learning about the world and the family he's wrapped up within all are quite palpable. Even for the characters who have a darker presence in this novel, it's hard not to be charmed or taken into their perspectives and experiences because Farmer creates them so carefully. There were certainly moments when I chuckled at the interactions between characters (Matt and Tam Lin certainly had a few of those moments for me personally - and gah, I loved Tam Lin even with his respective conflicted background), but there's a darkness to this story as well, and it deals with some very heavy themes that leave an indelible impression with respect to the characters it involves. Things like cloning, slavery, the drug trade, prejudices, the hierarchy and power struggles of family, belief systems, among other matters. There are also quite many characters to keep up with in the spectrum of the story. Yet, Farmer makes the narrative and those characters' experience flow so smoothly and with ease that it just comes naturally in the duration of the work. Even now, as I'm reflecting on the whole of it, this story, its respective players, conflicts - none of it has left me, and for me that's a mark of a strong story: when it can immerse you, have a range of emotional resonances that keep you engaged with the work, and leave you thinking about it even after you've finished it. This is the kind of story that I expect from strong MG/YA dystopian works - when it can give me a clear picture of the world it takes place in, the characters and the stakes they face, and keep one firmly rooted in those respective conflicts and engagements. To say that I was impressed with this novel is rather an understatement. Having said that, I'm not going to pretend that this novel didn't have a few stumbles. The first 2/3 of this story pretty much had me devouring pages to see how Matt would deal with some of the costs, mistakes and hardships he had to face, but there was a time in the last third where the narrative did slow a bit, and I think that was because the story had taken a transitional point from the family that Matt had left behind to the orphanage where he meets the other boys. Having to introduce those particular players in that part of the story was a bit of another beginning that took a bit to find the flow of before it steamrolled to the end. Even with that consideration, I really enjoyed the journey this took me on. I'm certainly looking forward to reading the next chapter in Matt's journey and I think this is a novel that does so many things remarkably well. It's one I won't forget, one I think many MG and YA readers as well as those beyond that audience will enjoy, and it gets my highest recommendation. Overall score: 5/5

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ms. B

    November 2020 - Excited to be reading this for a third time for a tween/teen book club!! Read to the end for my updated review on 12/17/20. What if you were a clone? Are you a human? Are you an animal? Do you even have a soul? All these questions and many more are asked by our protagonist Matteo Alacran aka Matt in this story set in what might be the not-so-distant future. Matt is the clone of the original Matteo Alcaran aka El Patron who is almost 150 years old. This is the story of Matt's shelt November 2020 - Excited to be reading this for a third time for a tween/teen book club!! Read to the end for my updated review on 12/17/20. What if you were a clone? Are you a human? Are you an animal? Do you even have a soul? All these questions and many more are asked by our protagonist Matteo Alacran aka Matt in this story set in what might be the not-so-distant future. Matt is the clone of the original Matteo Alcaran aka El Patron who is almost 150 years old. This is the story of Matt's sheltered yet privileged youth as a member of the powerful Alcaran family. This is fiction at its best; a cast of many, adventure, romance and betrayal, this coming of age story has it all. As I came to the conclusion of this story, I was left with two questions: 1) Why hasn't this book been made into a movie? 2) is there a sequel*? Why not? This book was published over 10 years ago. This book is deserving of one. I want to read more about what happens next to Matt. *Good news - A sequel is expected later this year! 12/17/20 This one never disappoints. Imho, it is destined to become a classic.

  21. 4 out of 5

    booklady

    First read this in 2004 when my daughters were in middle school. It’s an excellent young adult novel about a young man, Matt, who discovers he is ‘clone’ in a futuristic society somewhere between America and Mexico. How Matt—cloned to be the spare ‘parts’ for a wealthy elderly man—grows into adolescence and discovers the truth of his identity, learns who his friends and foes are, the rules of the system in which he lives and how to survive is an incredible story. It really helps you look at huma First read this in 2004 when my daughters were in middle school. It’s an excellent young adult novel about a young man, Matt, who discovers he is ‘clone’ in a futuristic society somewhere between America and Mexico. How Matt—cloned to be the spare ‘parts’ for a wealthy elderly man—grows into adolescence and discovers the truth of his identity, learns who his friends and foes are, the rules of the system in which he lives and how to survive is an incredible story. It really helps you look at human life and ask what it means to be a human being. What exactly constitutes a human person? Someone born of a mother? Who also had a father? What do we mean by ‘existence’? Awareness? Intelligence? Life? The will to live? Do we consider the needs of the state? Besides Matt there are others this society takes liberty with, deciding what their level of ‘life’ is to be. It’s the kind of book which will have you asking all kinds of questions and considering many things you might not have thought about before. Highly recommended.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maddie L

    This book was very slow and boring at the beginning, but as I went on I started really enjoying it. I recommend it for people, but if you do decide to read it give it time before you decide you don't like it. This book was very slow and boring at the beginning, but as I went on I started really enjoying it. I recommend it for people, but if you do decide to read it give it time before you decide you don't like it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    “The House of the Scorpion” is about Matteo Alacran, who is the clone of another Matteo Alacran. The original Matteo Alacran, also known as El Patron, was a power-hungry drug-dealer that created an evil empire filled with eejits, or people that have no will. Due to Matt being a clone, he is always treated differently – usually for the worse. He is trapped in the Alacran estate, a large mansion filled with people that have a personal distaste for him. Although he does make a few friends, such as “The House of the Scorpion” is about Matteo Alacran, who is the clone of another Matteo Alacran. The original Matteo Alacran, also known as El Patron, was a power-hungry drug-dealer that created an evil empire filled with eejits, or people that have no will. Due to Matt being a clone, he is always treated differently – usually for the worse. He is trapped in the Alacran estate, a large mansion filled with people that have a personal distaste for him. Although he does make a few friends, such as Celia, a maid in the Alacran estate that treats Matt like her own son, Tam Lin, one of El Patron’s bodyguards, and Maria, a very emotional girl that has a large mouth and a big heart. And although El Patron is very kind to Matt, he has a wicked plan in store for him, and it has something to do with Patron being over 140 years old… Finally, a novel worthy of five stars! It has been such a long time since I’ve read one, so, it’s kind of exciting. Anyway, on to my personal opinion of the book. I totally loved everything about it. The characters were well-developed, the world was unique and intriguing, and the plot was very well thought-out. The world Farmer created seemed reminiscent of Neal Shusterman’s “Unwind”, which was also a very good novel. Another thing I liked about this book was that although I’m not a huge fan of Sci-fi novels, the prose and dialogue made everything easier for me to digest. I really cared about the characters, I was (pathetically) almost in tears at the end when I learned about a certain character’s fate. So I would highly recommend this book to everyone I know.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    This is the first instalment in the Matteo Alacran series. Matteo was born inside of a cow. He might look, think, act and talk like any other human child, but he is actually a clone for one of the most powerful men to rule in this future world, the king of Opium. Opium lies between America and Mexico. A little of each has been shaved away to create this new country, which profits from selling the drug that gives it its name. This reads like a novel on the younger end of the Young Adult spectrum, b This is the first instalment in the Matteo Alacran series. Matteo was born inside of a cow. He might look, think, act and talk like any other human child, but he is actually a clone for one of the most powerful men to rule in this future world, the king of Opium. Opium lies between America and Mexico. A little of each has been shaved away to create this new country, which profits from selling the drug that gives it its name. This reads like a novel on the younger end of the Young Adult spectrum, bordering potentially on becoming a Middle Grade novel. This did not deter me from picking this book up and I have previously enjoyed books aimed towards a similar audience. However, please bear in mind that any flaws I found within this book probably stem from my being outside of the targeted age range. I can appreciate all the book set out to deliver, but also found nothing truly compelling inside of it. This proved to be a running theme with this book as there were no flaws or unlikable elements but neither was there anything that truly gripped my attention or stood out for me. The writing was fine, as were the characters and the construction of this future world. The storyline did not really become prominent until the final third, when the book's focus shifted and a new setting and set of characters were introduced. This was my favourite portion of the book but it unfortunately arrived too late for me to harbour anything other than lukewarm feelings towards it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Nancy Farmer has a unique talent for creating action-packed novels set in some pretty wild places. In this case, the future is ruled by a Mexican druglord who clones himself in order to harvest organs when he needs them. The book follows the life of a clone. Science meets social issues in Nancy Farmer's books. People who try to flee the Mexican border into the U.S. are captured in a new country ruled by the druglord, where they are imbedded with a computer chip in the brain to make them complace Nancy Farmer has a unique talent for creating action-packed novels set in some pretty wild places. In this case, the future is ruled by a Mexican druglord who clones himself in order to harvest organs when he needs them. The book follows the life of a clone. Science meets social issues in Nancy Farmer's books. People who try to flee the Mexican border into the U.S. are captured in a new country ruled by the druglord, where they are imbedded with a computer chip in the brain to make them complacent slaves who work until they drop dead. The book is written for teens. There's a lot in here to lead a book group into a variety of discussions: slavery, border patrol and cloning just to start. This could be compared with other teen books like Feed by Anderson, The Uglies/Pretties series by Westerfield or The Ear The Eye and The Arm, also by Farmer for her look into the future of Africa. This book has scenes that you will never see on tv or read about anywhere else. Despite the fact that the setting is in the future and involves some very imaginative situations, the book is written so well that it's not difficult to imagine the scenes. Very, very interesting!

  26. 5 out of 5

    AH

    That was amazing. Why hadn’t I heard of this award winning book? The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer absolutely captivated me. I read it in about a day and could not put it down. Essentially it’s a middle school to young adult book but the beauty of it is that it can be read on so many levels that anyone from about age 12 and up can get something out of this book. The book touches upon many themes: religion, politics, ethics, cloning, slavery, the drug trade, corruption and probably a few o That was amazing. Why hadn’t I heard of this award winning book? The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer absolutely captivated me. I read it in about a day and could not put it down. Essentially it’s a middle school to young adult book but the beauty of it is that it can be read on so many levels that anyone from about age 12 and up can get something out of this book. The book touches upon many themes: religion, politics, ethics, cloning, slavery, the drug trade, corruption and probably a few others that I have not mentioned. The story is beautifully written and is told in the voice of a young child. Matt is born to this world with a purpose. He is seen as a beast and treated like an animal. Later on in the story, he moves into the drug lord’s home and is given an indulgent childhood. He is educated, allowed to play the piano, and allowed to ride a horse. Matt has his own personal body guard who teaches him survival training. There are some dark undertones to this book and while El Patron looks like a doting father, something sinister is afoot. Don’t read the blurbs. Just go into the story with an open mind and enjoy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    freaking addicting read it 4 times. This is the story of a clone named Matteo Alacran, or matt. Matt is a clone of the drug lord el patron. El Patron is very concerned about the wellbeing of matt. In this book matt grows from a skin cell to the age 16. During this time period he slowly learns why el patron is so worried about matt's well being. el patron has had clones before matt, he uses them for orgam transplants so he can live long. el patron is 140. This book takes place in the future. Ameri freaking addicting read it 4 times. This is the story of a clone named Matteo Alacran, or matt. Matt is a clone of the drug lord el patron. El Patron is very concerned about the wellbeing of matt. In this book matt grows from a skin cell to the age 16. During this time period he slowly learns why el patron is so worried about matt's well being. el patron has had clones before matt, he uses them for orgam transplants so he can live long. el patron is 140. This book takes place in the future. America and mexico are having problems with immagration and drugs. The drug lords went to the governments and told them this and recomended something that would solve these problems. The country of Opium. it is a ten mile wide strip between Aztlan (prestent day mexico) and america. The country Opium captures the border hoppers and makes them into eejits, which are people with computer chips in there brains so they listen to orders. They have problems if the don't hear there leader say something like stop working and go back to the pens, they keep doing there last order. If they are asked to work they will work until somebody says stop, If they don't hear that order they will keep working until they actually hear it or die. it is that strait. they are great workers. Opium send people out to Aztlan as "guides" for people wanting to cross Opium into america, they just lead them strait to where they are made into eejits. The person that is the most influintal person in matts life is Celia. Celia is basicly his mother. She cares for him the same as a mother would. When El Patron has a heart attack and might need a transplant she gives him something that makes it unsafe for el patron to get the transeplant. She gave hime to much, he is not hurt but now she has to find something else to do the job. She hears about butterflies. (i know butterflies). Some butterflies eat milkweed so that that they can still live but if something eats them they are poisendl. she keeps him alive. his other influence is tam lin his personal body gaurd, Tam Lin. He teaches him how to be a man he shows him how to fish. Tam Lin had a history that got el patron to like him as a body gaurd. Tam Lin ran into a problem when he tried to blow up a political figure, a bus with twenty kids drove by. All of them died, without el patron he would be in jail. Matt finds out about this and it crushes him becuase Tam lin was his hero and all he heard was that he killed 20 kids. Tam lin felt extremly bad about this and ended up dieing. This is also a devolopling love story. What i mean is that matt is growing up and is slowly falling in love with maria. It is like any love stories it has ups and downs. When matt kidnapps her dog to get her to talk to him agian. Felicia kills the dog and it all falls upon matt. I thought that the author had a good idea, and pull through. I believe that it is possible for this story to pull through. Some of the science i think very possible, I don't believe that you could grow a human clone in a cow. I do think if they do have clones they will not be availible to people other than rich people like El Patron. I also think that clone will be treated like matt is by rosa, as a monster or beast. I believe that there could not be eejits, because it is not scientificly possible. the ending is hardcore Fenwick

  28. 4 out of 5

    Riley Schopf

    A very beautiful story and had just stunning visualization. At one point in the story, Matt the main character, on a mountain, and the word choice is breath taking. A great choice is when the author is talking about the animal noises in the night, and the author describes it as 'wild music'. She also gives you a great story of gaining power and being able to control it, while also not letting it get out of hand. A very beautiful story and had just stunning visualization. At one point in the story, Matt the main character, on a mountain, and the word choice is breath taking. A great choice is when the author is talking about the animal noises in the night, and the author describes it as 'wild music'. She also gives you a great story of gaining power and being able to control it, while also not letting it get out of hand.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lisbeth Avery {Domus Libri}

    The House of the Scorpion was just wow. Wow. If this is the norm of the books I’m going to read 2012, than I’m in luck (and just wow will be part of my vocab). It is a brilliant work of art. I had not ever read a Nancy Farmer book (though twice now I rented The Sea of Trolls – but never got to it). I was very happy with this book, begging everyone I know to read it. They didn’t – yet. The “main villain” (I don’t really call any of them the main villain because without even one childhood it would The House of the Scorpion was just wow. Wow. If this is the norm of the books I’m going to read 2012, than I’m in luck (and just wow will be part of my vocab). It is a brilliant work of art. I had not ever read a Nancy Farmer book (though twice now I rented The Sea of Trolls – but never got to it). I was very happy with this book, begging everyone I know to read it. They didn’t – yet. The “main villain” (I don’t really call any of them the main villain because without even one childhood it wouldn’t seem the same) is lovable, and by the time he does something bad (though you expected it), you are sad. Characters: Matt is a kind, curious, human character. He is a child in this book, not an adult. He acts like one, and even more he makes child like mistakes. There is one beautiful scene (yet not really) were Matt makes someone do something (I won’t specify…) – that a thirteen year old kid would do (chapter 11 – The Giving and Taking of Gifts). The “villains” were also human. Even the minor-est villains made you hate them and when something bad happens to them you are happy, yet sad for maybe, just maybe they didn’t deserve it. A certain Rosa is a good example. Plot: It begins… slowly, but that really builds everything up. It isn’t a fast paced book. [Some of] the surprises are expected which slights takes away from the main story line. I guessed about 75% of them, but the author left many clues (probably wanting you to find some of them). The big surprise as a 50/50 surprise, for I guessed who the bad person was yet not what he was going to do – but then again there were lots of clues so if I tried harder, I could have guessed it. What I enjoyed/didn’t: The was no cussing other than 1 or 2 c and 3 or 4 d, though this was a young adult book. Often, the author will add too much cussing just to make it a young adult book. This book was young adult for themes, not cussing/romance/ect. The story was realistic because (view spoiler)[ El Patrón is the leader of the Opium fields, yet he isn’t a nice guy as Matt thinks. (hide spoiler)] I didn’t like Matt’s reaction to Tom, even though to be fair, Matt was a child [chapter 10 - A Cat With Nine Lives]. I felt it was just wrong, though I do reward Farmer for a very well written chapter. True, it’s not a real criticism, mainly because I can’t find a bad thing about the book. In conclusion: The writing was entertaining and easy to read at times, but hard to read at others. I was recently looking around and found Nancy’s blog (or some poser I guess). According to my source, she is writing a sequel. The ending left me hanging, but I don’t know if I really want “another book”. I will read her other books once I get them. Her books are well written. Another good change, from the Twilights and Hunger Games, is that this book has a good and clear moral. I recommend it to mature audiences, 12 (mature) up ——————————————————————————— Favorite Scene & Character: My favorite character is Tam Lin. My favorite scene is actually a part – the first. Favorite Quote: “What Matt hated about the creature was everyone’s assumption that he and Furball were the same. It didn’t matter that Matt had excellent grades and good manners. They were both animals and thus unimportant.” -Narrator Find this review and more at Domus Libri!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lyndsey

    I started this one a while back and took a long break before coming back to finish it. I had forgotten how intensely and wonderfully creative this book was. I had forgotten the beauty of the language used in it. The mysteries of Matt's relationship with El Patron. The nickname he is called, mi vida - my life - which has so much more meaning than even he realizes. The subplots of this book are extensive and diverse. Scientific experiments, drug dealing, juvenile espionage, child imprisonment, and I started this one a while back and took a long break before coming back to finish it. I had forgotten how intensely and wonderfully creative this book was. I had forgotten the beauty of the language used in it. The mysteries of Matt's relationship with El Patron. The nickname he is called, mi vida - my life - which has so much more meaning than even he realizes. The subplots of this book are extensive and diverse. Scientific experiments, drug dealing, juvenile espionage, child imprisonment, and family power struggles just to name a few. At first, eejit is used as a derogatory term and I thought that was just their term for idiot. But it runs much deeper than even that. I don't want to give anything away but it is certainly an interesting take on the human experience. In fact, everything in this book comes back to the question: What is it that makes us human? I can't say for certain whether all the questions are answered, so you'll just have to find out for yourself. But I can certainly say that I had a great time attempting to find answers for myself inside this wildly imaginative book. My only disappointment with this book was that I didn't feel the emotions as strongly as I would have liked. And I did kind of expect a twist and the end, but the ending was beautiful none the less. Loved it.

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