House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer Review

The House of the Scorpion (Matteo Alacran, #1)The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! The House of the Scorpion is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It is such a rich story that tackles all sorts of social issues.

Matt is a clone of El Patron, one of the most powerful drug cartel leaders in Opium, the land that lies between America and Mexico. Matt struggles with his identity, finding acceptance, and knowing who he can trust.

Opium is populated with corrupt politicians, drug lords, border guards, and eejits – zombified crop laborers with chips implanted in their heads.

Woven throughout is the history of how Opium came to be. El Patron tells Matt of his impoverished boyhood and his eventual rise to power. El Patron is a fascinating character, for one thing he is 146 years old but still ruling his drug empire through intimidation. Even his own children fear him, but he loves and is loved by Matt – a living representation of his own youth. However, their relationship is complex and ultimately the choices Matt makes about El Patron determine both their futures.

Matt develops a tender relationship with Tam Lim, one of El Patron’s bodyguards. Through their friendship, Matt is challenged to defy others’ expectations and create his own identity.

Nancy Farmer has done a stellar job creating a morally-complex dystopian world. I look forward to reading the sequel.

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard Review

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a world of red blooded commoners and silver blooded elites, Mare Barrow is an anomaly. When an accident at the Royal Court reveals that Mare has an ability of her own, she is thrown into the dangerous world of the Silvers. To survive, she must forge alliances with her most hated enemies and hide her true identity.

Mare’s hometown, an oppressed village called The Stilts, as well as the fight scene in the colosseum at the beginning reminded me a lot of the Hunger Games. The wide-array of powers that the Silvers possess was a Miss Peregrine’s/Grisha trilogy mash-up. But the strongest resemblance was to Kiera Cass’s Selection series, oddly enough. The overall feel of the palace, the fancy dresses and make-up, the guards, and Mare’s relationship with the king and the princes – all reminded me a lot of The Selection. Despite that, all together the story still felt pretty original.

My favorite part was Mare’s relationship between the two brothers. The sibling rivalry and developing love triangle kept me turning pages. Though I would have liked a little more time with the oldest brother, Cal. But, I imagine in future books we get to know him more.

I had a pretty good idea of the ending early on, but it was still enjoyable reading.

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