Saturday, March 24, 2012

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Matteo is a clone. Raised on a huge opium plantation, he suddenly finds out he's the clone of El Patron, the powerful ruler of the area. Matt finds himself a valuable possession of El Patron, but the other people in the family consider him a freak and little better than an animal save for the woman who raised him, his body guard, and Maria, a relative of El Patron. Matt finds himself torn, as he loves El Patron as part of himself, but he starts to realize something is terribly wrong with the living situation at the plantation. There's also the mindless, zombie eejits that harvest the opium and are cared about less than animals. Suddenly Matt finds himself betrayed and that there is a far darker purpose going on both when it comes to himself and El Patron's ultimate plans for his family.

Genre: fantasy

Rating: 5/5

Other: What An Animal Reading Challenge; Magical March Reading Challenge

Aside from an ending that felt a little rushed, this was an excellent book that challenges cloning, science and socialism all in one swoop. Matt is surrounded by shadowy characters who seem like something out of the soap operas his keeper Cecilia watches. Most are evil and grasping and even those who seem harmless are out to destroy Matt. Matt has his own internal conflicts as he is the clone of a very evil man, yet that doesn't mean Matt himself is bad. The irony is that Matt isn't judged because he's part of El Patron, but because he's a clone at all. The book makes a good point about human rights, as clones are seen as cattle, abominations, and are generally harvested for parts. Matt proves himself to be resilient as despite abuse and plots to kill him, he finds strength in himself to not only prove he's a good person, but also that he's proud of who he is, clone or not. And the very qualities that make El Patron a bad man actually work to make Matt be able to change things.

This just ended up being a book that was far more interesting and engaging than I'd ever imagined. The only complaint is that the ending felt very rushed for the build up with everything being wrapped up in a chapter. It was a brilliant book though and highly recommended.

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