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.