National Book Award, Young People's Literature, 2002Matt is a clone of El Patrón, a powerful drug lord of the land of Opium, which is located between the United States and Mexico. For six years, he has lived in a tiny cottage in the poppy fields with Celia, a kind and deeply religious servant woman who is charged with his care and safety. He knows little about his existence until he is discovered by a group of children playing in the fields and wonders why he isn't like them. Though Matt has been spared the fate of most clones, who have their intelligence destroyed at birth, the evil inhabitants of El Patrón's empire consider him a "beast" and an "eejit."
When El Patrón dies at the age of 146,14-year-old Matt escapes Opium with the help of Celia and Tam Lin, his devoted bodyguard who wants to right his own wrongs. After a near misadventure in his escape, Matt makes his way back home and begins to rid the country of its evils.
©2004 Nancy Farmer; (P)2008 Simon and Schuster
I was definitely not expecting to enjoy this book. The description was all about drug lords and clones and such, totally not my cup of tea. I was pleasantly surprised! This is a strange but interesting book about a boy coming of age. He is shunned by most of the people around him and treated like an animal because he is the clone of a very affluent and influential man (who just happens to be a drug lord). You'll be entranced once you start reading this futuristic book.
Go forward in time, a century or two, to a drug corridor that divides the US from Mexico, a center of narcotics production that supplies the world with narcotics. The most powerful of the drug lords is determined never to die so he relies on clones, fully conscious ones, to be there for him when the time comes. And the latest clone should ultimately end up like all the others, but this boy acquires, almost by accident, something the others never had, the love of the domestics charged with keeping him fed and unhurt.
This is a marvelous work, read brilliantly by Raul Esparza (his reading of Under the Dome is also a must-listen). Farmer has thought through every detail of this story, and wisely leavened what would would be a despairing and mournful vision of the future with the undying fact of human love and inter-dependence. My teen got me to read this and it's the best thing she's done for me all year.
This book was pretty good. The only drawback was that the locations all seemed to have similar names. This made it harder to follow the story sometimes.
I am a forty-something science teacher who listened to this book on advice of some of my students. Enjoyed the plot, and enjoyed even more seeing what my brighter students are reading and how it relates to science. Many of the ideas have been said before, but not directly to this generation in this way. The story is a great distraction from everyday life, though the ending is fairly abrupt and too 'pat' for the intense plot that precedes it.
My students loved listening to this audiobook as they followed along. Narrator does an excellent job or reading with prosody.
This is a superb young adult novel that is a fun read for adult adults too. The narrator is wonderful, not surprising I guess since he is a Tony Award nominee. I was fully absorbed in this novel from the beginning. The dystopian world is fresh, and as the plot unfolds, new dimensions reveal themselves. I highly recommend this book!
The scene where the boys were thrown into the bone pit was so well described that I felt I was there with them. I was holding my breath during the entire scene.
I couldn't put the book down. Unlike most books, there was no way of knowing where the story was going next. From the very beginning, the reader is being pulled along wondering what is going on and where is it leading.
Nancy Farmer has an incredible imagination, and I look forward to reading more of her books.
I've read this book multiple times and listened to it many times also. It is a very good read and also enjoyable to listen. I would suggest this book to everyone; it has a great story and is very interesting.
Good premise, good narration. Writing was pedestrian at best. Characters were one dimensional, holes in plot myriad. I felt like I was listening to a book written for pre-schoolers. As someone who enjoys all books, I admit that I enjoyed this one too... I just felt it was pretty bad overall. The plot and the characters both needed to be developed significantly more.
The House of Scorpions was one of the best audiobooks I've listened to; the narrator was excellent! His accents were superb!
Matt, the main character, was my favorite character. He has such a unique story, that learning about what would happen to him in the future made the story compelling. My 14-year-old daughter and I also loved Tam Lin and Celia.
I haven't listened to his narrations before this one, but if I see his name on other audiobooks, it will factor into my decision about whether or not to buy the book - in that book's favor!
I had several extreme reactions to this book - mostly shock, horror, sadness, and respect. This book definitely brought more emotions to the surface than most others.
The story was so unique. I went through a phase of reading dystopian fiction and got a little burned out because a lot of the ideas seemed to be repeated with a spin. This was entirely new to me and made me think about something new, which I love. My daughter and I listen to audiobooks while we drive, and both of us would look forward to a car ride.
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