The House Of The Scorpion
- Number of Pages: 400
- English (Unknown)
- English (Original Language)
- English (Published)
Series: National Book Award Winner for Young People's Literature, Newbery Honor Book, Printz Honor Book Matteo Alacrá n was not born; he was harvested. Then he was placed inside the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. Matt's first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. But escape from the Alacrá n Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his distinction in approaches he doesn't even suspect. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster--except for El Patró n. El Patró n loves Matt as he loves himself, due to the fact Matt is himself. As Matt struggles to know his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, like El Patró n's power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a hazardous army of bodyguards. His DNA came from El Patró n, lord of a country called Opium--a strip of poppy fields lying between the United states and what was once called Mexico. Escape may be the only chance Matt has to survive.
Fields of white opium poppies stretch away more than the hills, and uniformed workers bend over the rows, harvesting the juice. There he and also other"lost kids"are trapped in a far more subtle kind of slavery before Matt can return to Opium to take his rightful place and transform his nation. This is the empire of Matteo Alacran, a feudal drug lord inside the nation of Opium, which lies between the United states and Aztlan, formerly Mexico. Gradually he realizes the fate that is in store for him, and with the help of Tam Lin, his bluff and kind Scottish bodyguard, he escapes to Aztlan. Field work, or any menial tasks, are carried out by"eejits,"humans in whose brains computer chips have been installed to insure docility. Alacran, or El Patron, has lived 140 years with all the aid of transplants from a series of clones, a frequent practice among wealthy guys in this world. The intelligence of clones is commonly destroyed at birth, but Matt, the latest of Alacran's doubles, has been spared since he belongs to El Patron. He grows up in the family's mansion, alternately caged and despised as an animal and pampered and educated as El Patron's favorite.
Nancy Farmer, a two-time Newbery honoree, surpasses even her marvelous novel, The Ear, The Eye and the Arm inside the breathless action and fascinating characters of The House of the Scorpion. Readers will be reminded of Orson Scott Card's Ender in Matt's persistence and courage inside the face of a world that intends to function with him for its personal purposes, and of Louis Sachar's Holes in the camaraderie of imprisoned boys as nicely as the layers of meaning embedded in this irresistibly compelling story. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell
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