Friday, November 25, 2011

House of the Scorpion
by Nancy Farmer

This is a guest post
by Kristy Bruce
Six-year-old Matt Alacran is a clone. He doesn’t know what that means, but he does know that he’s different from the people around him. The people who care for him can be counted on one hand: Celia, the closest thing Matt’s ever had to a mother; Tam Lin, his bodyguard; and his powerful and volatile “father,” a man they all call El Patron. 

El Patron is the undisputed leader of the country they call Opium, a narrow strip of land between the southern border of the United States and Azatlan. His mansion is surrounded by the vast opium fields that are the source of his wealth, and are tended by eejits, human beings who have been altered to be little better than mindless slaves.

Matt receives the best education money can buy. Celia teaches him compassion.  Tam Lin teaches him to think for himself and survive in the wild. El Patron teaches him that wealth and power require ruthlessness.

Matt absorbs these lessons carefully, thinking about the day when he will take over El Patron’s empire. El Patron dotes upon him, and Matt feels sure of his place as El Patron’s heir—until one day El Patron has a heart attack and nearly dies. In the hospital, Matt learns that all of them have been keeping a vital truth from him: that the only part of Matt that El Patron cares about are his organs.

Matt runs, but where can he go in a world where he is considered less than human? And can he ever do enough to make amends for the evil things that El Patron has done?

Matt’s dilemma makes the reader ask: are we genetically programmed to be a certain way, or do we have free will? Despite the complex philosophical questions posed by The House of the Scorpion, it is written in an engaging and accessible way. Nancy Farmer's story will particularly appeal to older teens who are in the process of forging their own identities.

Copy source: unknown
Genre: young adult science fiction
Format: unknown

Kristy Bruce is a writer, educator, and photographer based in northern BC. She is an avid reader, and often reads YA fiction to find new books to recommend to her students. Her work has been published in The Mercury, The Outlook, the Alaska Highway News, and most recently in an anthology called Christmas Chaos, published by Prairie Dog Publishers.

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