Thursday, December 9, 2010

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

The House of the Scorpion

Author: Nancy Farmer

Publisher: Simon Pulse

4½ out of 5 stars

He has two legs and two arms. A pair of eyes. Hair, a nose, a mouth. He can speak, he can run, and he can think. He has a brain. And most importantly, he has a heart. But what he doesn’t have is a soul… or at least that’s what they say. It is this fact that makes him not human in most people’s eyes. Not only that, but he was harvested from a cow’s womb, and before that his home was a petri dish. What is this being, who is a feared monster that is treated like an animal? Well… Matteo Alcrán is a clone. 

It’s as simple as that, really. Matt is a clone and always will be. At first, he doesn’t really understand what he is. All he knows is that he lives with Celia, the cook, in a vast field of poppies. What Matt doesn’t know is that the vast field of poppies that he lives in is part of the humongous estate of the human Matteo Alcrán. Wait, the human? Yes, the human, because Matt is the clone to the drug lord Matteo Alcrán, El Patrón.

I understand that this might be a bit troublesome to take in, but let me explain. It is the future, and Mexico is now known as Atzlán. However, there is now a country in between the border of Atzlán and America. It is known as Opium, where different men are lords of farms that grow and harvest opium. The opium is then distributed to different continents such as Asia, Europe, and Africa. It wasn’t always like this. America and Atzlán were tired of the smuggling of drugs into their countries, so they struck a deal with El Patrón. He would stop the drug trafficking and the people illegally crossing the border if the United States and Atzlán did not press any charges against him and left him alone. And so it is, with El Patrón the largest and most powerful ruler in Opium by far. With Matt as his clone.

Matt lives his life with El Patrón doting on him, and becoming an educated young man. Matt is lucky though to live such a privileged life. He learns that most clones aren’t like him, as it is required by law that all clones have a computer chip put into their brains that hinder their thinking process. They are as brainless as the workers on the plantation who also bear these horrible devices. Matt is an exception. However, as Matt grows older he soon realizes what his purpose in life is meant to be. He wasn’t meant to accomplish great feats in life, or become someone. He was made, produced, just to provide El Patrón with a heart when the time comes. And the time has come. What will Matt do, and is there anything he can do? Is his life, or El Patrón’s, more valuable? And who is he to defy one of the greatest drug lords there is, since he’s only a clone? All is revealed in Nancy Farmer’s intense and powerfully passionate tale of one young clone fighting for his existence, in The House of the Scorpion!

This was a very forceful account of one single person defying an entire society who is against him, and learning to survive. I was in awe when I read about this harsh reality that many were forced to endure. The House of the Scorpion really opened up my eyes to this amazing boy’s strength to continue on despite all of the resistance he faced. Matt persevered when he wasn’t even sure what was ahead of him. This is a fantastic book for young teens, teens, and adults as it truly reveals this cruel take on the future.

What I enjoyed the most was the fact that Matt grew up seeing the world in a different way. He learned how society works and what place he had in it, but that didn’t stop him. It was daunting at times, but he learned, what did he have to lose? He could either risk it all or just give up and die without ever living. His mindset and way of seeing things caused me to respect Matteo Alcrán, the clone, greatly.

I also thoroughly enjoyed that I got to watch Matt grow up throughout his life. Instead of meeting Matt at one point and having to catch up on his history, I was right there with him when it happened. I learned things as Matt did, and got to see things through a clone’s eyes. I enjoyed reading The House of the Scorpion from this perspective, as I realized just how much of a struggle Matt often had to put up with.

However, I would have liked to see more of what the world was like in the future, outside of Opium or Atzlán. I did not get to learn about what the United States of America was like very much, or any other part of the world for that matter. Seeing through Matt’s eyes wasn’t always a benefit, as I could only experience the experiences that he had. I also felt like I didn’t spend enough time exploring different parts of El Patrón’s estate, or different parts of Atzlán. I only got to see one side of it all, and that was Matt’s.

All in all, The House of the Scorpion is a compelling story of what one boy will do to survive when the odds are against him. Join Matt, as he learns what the world is really like and strives to find who he, Matteo Alcrán the clone, really is, in The House of the Scorpion!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

Check out The House of the Scorpion website at
The House of the Scorpion is available from Amazon here.


  1. Sounds like a great book. Your reviews inspire me to read more. Thanks!

  2. Wow, that sounds so interesting. Another for my wishlist I fear :))

  3. Haha, nothing's wrong with that! This book is such an intriguing one that really made me think. I loved it from cover to cover!

  4. OMG! I remember this book! I read it a while back and I loved it!! I never thought about doing a review for it.... i might now :) Like you, I also enjoyed watching Matteo grow throughout the book! Reading this book reminds me to appreciate what I have.

  5. Watching Matteo grow throughout the book was one of my favorite aspects to the whole story! I agree, this book really made me think.


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