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"A little extra forgiveness never hurts."

A Book Review

Book: The House Of the Scorpion
Author: Nancy Farmer
Genre: Sci-fi, Dystopian, YA
Published: 2002
Awards: National Book Award for the Young People's Literature & John Newbery Medal

A while back I was perusing the shelves of my school library in hopes of finding something to read and came across this book. That same week I also went thrift shopping and as a coincidence found the same book to be for sale and bought it for $1. I much prefer to own the copies of the books I read as it gives me the liberty to mark my favorite pages, chapters, and quotes.

Anyway, at first I only read the first few chapters and then shortly afterwards it lay forgotten in my book shelve. This was due to the fact that I was being bombarded by books to read for school rather than that I lost interest. This week I found it and let me tell you, I finished it all in one day. Well two, considering that I stayed up until 1 AM leafing fervently through the pages.

As you may have surmised from my rambling, it was a pretty good book. I think that especially now that some of us have more free time, it would be good entertainment to crack it open and delve into the wonderfully written world of Matteo Alacran.

Book Summary

Matteo Alacran is a clone.

Matteo Alacran is a clone of a powerful drug lord.

Matteo Alacran is a clone of a powerful drug lord, birthed by a cow.

Matteo Alacran is the clone of a powerful drug lord, who's name is also Matteo Alacran but is referred to by his family and employees as 'El Patron'. You'd think this would earn young Matt some street cred, but unfortunately that is not the case. Since he was 'born' from a cow, he's considered and treated as an animal by most of the Alacran family and staff. Of course only away from the eyes of 'El Patron'.

The story takes place in the future, in the boarder of what was once Mexico, now known as Aztlan and the United States. The boarder is now a state of it's own, ran by ancient drug lord 'El Patron' (he's like 142), named after the drug harvested in it. Opium.

The plot of course revolves around the life of young Matt and the struggle of his identity or rather the identity he shares with an old man in a wheel chair. He has very few friends and lives in a hostile environment created be the Alacran family. Because of this, he spends most of his early life secluded, only with his mother figure Celia to keep him company and his friend Maria who at first only seems to regard him an equal to her beloved dog furball. Later on he gains a father figure, Tam Lin, a Scottish bodyguard with a dark past and then finally a few friends.

Throughout the book prominent questions such as "What makes a human, human?" and "What makes a person evil?" are prevalent. Nancy Farmer answers these questions through young Matt's internal and external struggles.

The word Alacran translates to scorpion in Spanish. In the book El Patron claims that he changed his last name to Alacran since he hailed from Durango, a state where there are a lot of people "scurrying" about, much like scorpions.The name is symbolical of the families poisonous and toxic personalities/behavior.

The ending to the book did not feel like much of an ending to me. I was left with questions and it seemed the author decided to end it at the beginning of a potential plot point. This being said, Farmer divided the book in increments of Young Matt's age and ended the book at age 14, to early in my opinion.

BUT, I found out that there is actually a sequel called "The Lord of Opium" that was published in 2013. That's probably why the author left the ending somewhat open ended. I have yet to read this sequel.

Although I feel like this book can be read as a stand-alone novel if your into that.


I want to finish this book review by saying that this book did not feel at all like the cliche YA dystopian novels that you see a lot of these days. I think this is mainly due to the fact that it was published in 2002 and mainstream media wasn't yet acquaintance with books like "The Hunger Games", "Divergent", or "The Maze Runner". This book read like something out of the literary cannon. It wasn't romantic cliche. It was realistic and it focused on the right things. It was a refreshing read.

I suppose I should give this a number rating. I have yet to figure out my ranking system since this is the first book review I've done but please bear with me.

I think I'll give it a 4/5, just because I feel like it isn't a total masterpiece.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my ranting and give this book a chance. Thank you in advance for taking your time to read through this and welcoming me into the book community of weheartit.

Feel free to comment? Or contact me? (I haven't spent much time in this website and I'm not entirely sure whether this is possible, but if it is you're totally welcome to.) About any questions, comments you may have or just to say hi.