Friday, May 6, 2011

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Published on April 27th, 2004
Before starting I should duly note the awards this book has received- the National Book Award, the Printz Award for Best Young Adult Literature, and the Newberry Honor Award. And let me say, I think The House of the Scorpion deserved every one of them. 

Matteo Alacran looks like a boy- but really, he is the perfect clone of the real Matteo Alacran, a wealthy drug lord who has ammased such wealth that he claims the land between Mexico, (now Aztlan) and the United States as his own country. The 142 year old runs the country of Opium off of the money he earns selling drugs, which is now a legal operation. Matt is tormented by the relatives and servants of the real Matteo because clones are considered to be dirty, filthy things, while the drug lord thinks of Matt as a pet that should be doted upon and educated. The only people Matt is looked upon as human is Celia, his cook and caretaker, Tam Lin, his Scottish bodyguard, and Maria Mendoza, the daughter of a senator in America. 

While Matt struggles to grow up as a real human boy, he collects strange secrets of the man he sees as his idol, the one and only Matteo Alacran. Now, he must run away before he is killed-but how will he escape the clutches of the wicked and twisted family of the Alacran Estate? 

Though science fiction only takes up a spare area in my bookshelf, The House of the Scorpion was something original and creative that I could actually grasp and imagine without shrinking away in disgust. I have read many YA dystopian novels in the year already, as they seem to be getting more and more popular with my audience, but this one has its own depth and character to it that makes it one of the best. Nancy Farmer skillfully twines the issues of today with the problems of the future, and throughout it all she is able to carry on a great coming-of-age story that shows itself through simple wording and excellent research and development that you can see throughout her book. I'm excited to read her other science fiction novels, and will be estatic if I were to ever hear about another book involving Matt and the other colorful characters in The House of the Scorpion.


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