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The House of the Scorpion Hardcover – Sep 1 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books; Repackage ed. edition (Sept. 1 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689852223
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689852220
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 726 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #177,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Fields of white opium poppies stretch away over the hills, and uniformed workers bend over the rows, harvesting the juice. This is the empire of Matteo Alacran, a feudal drug lord in the country of Opium, which lies between the United States and Aztlan, formerly Mexico. Field work, or any menial tasks, are done by "eejits," humans in whose brains computer chips have been installed to insure docility. Alacran, or El Patron, has lived 140 years with the help of transplants from a series of clones, a common practice among rich men in this world. The intelligence of clones is usually destroyed at birth, but Matt, the latest of Alacran's doubles, has been spared because 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. 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. There he and other "lost children" are trapped in a more subtle kind of slavery before Matt can return to Opium to take his rightful place and transform his country.

Nancy Farmer, a two-time Newbery honoree, surpasses even her marvelous novel, The Ear, The Eye and the Arm in 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 in the face of a world that intends to use him for its own purposes, and of Louis Sachar's Holes in the camaraderie of imprisoned boys and the layers of meaning embedded in this irresistibly compelling story. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell

From Publishers Weekly

Farmer's (A Girl Named Disaster; The Ear, the Eye and the Arm) novel may be futuristic, but it hits close to home, raising questions of what it means to be human, what is the value of life, and what are the responsibilities of a society. Readers will be hooked from the first page, in which a scientist brings to life one of 36 tiny cells, frozen more than 100 years ago. The result is the protagonist at the novel's center, Matt a clone of El Patron, a powerful drug lord, born Matteo Alacr n to a poor family in a small village in Mexico. El Patro n is ruler of Opium, a country that lies between the United States and Aztl n, formerly Mexico; its vast poppy fields are tended by eejits, human beings who attempted to flee Aztl n, programmed by a computer chip implanted in their brains. With smooth pacing that steadily gathers momentum, Farmer traces Matt's growing awareness of what being a clone of one of the most powerful and feared men on earth entails. Through the kindness of the only two adults who treat Matt like a human Celia, the cook and Matt's guardian in early childhood, and Tam Lin, El Patron's bodyguard Matt experiences firsthand the evils at work in Opium, and the corruptive power of greed ("When he was young, he made a choice, like a tree does when it decides to grow one way or the other... most of his branches are twisted," Tam Lin tells Matt). The author strikes a masterful balance between Matt's idealism and his intelligence. The novel's close may be rushed, and Tam Lin's fate may be confusing to readers, but Farmer grippingly demonstrates that there are no easy answers. The questions she raises will haunt readers long after the final page. Ages 11-14.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Format: Paperback
Nancy Farmer, the author of "House of the Scorpion", was born in 1941 and is a three time Newbury Award winner. Some of her other famous works are "The Sea of Trolls", "A Girl Named Disaster" and "The Ear, the Eye and the Arm". She currently lives in Menlo Park, California along with her family. Farmer grew up in same sweltering, desert plains the novel is set in, giving her a sense of comfort and originality, which reflects into the novel. The time the story is set in is not stated, but it is clearly a science fiction novel. Technology is used very casually, but pales to our level of technology showing that the society of has been advanced for an extremely long time.
Matt is a normal boy, he likes the same things as every typical boy his age, but he has felt branded all his life for being a clone. His predecessor, Matteo Alacran, is a man who is only out to benefit himself. He grants Matt everything he wants trying to make up for the bad childhood he once had. Matteo Alacran or El Patron, as he is also called, is often related to a pale, blood-sucking vampire, a description of which he in fact proud of. Matt only has a handful of true friend's but they are with him through thick and thin. There is Celia, the kind Spanish woman who raised Matt from an infant; she shares a special bond with Matt that nobody can break. She calls him "Me Vida" which means 'my world' in Spanish. Tam Lin and Maria are two other supporting characters and extensions of Matt's makeshift family tree. Tam Lin is Matt's bodyguard and never leaves his side. Although cold towards Matt at first he eventually becomes a close companion, teaching him all he needs to know on survival and friendship.
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Format: Hardcover
There seems to be a wonderful standard for so-called "y/a" fiction that is slipping in adult fiction.
This book is a great example. Beautifully written with rich, complex characters, THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION deserves many awards, in addition to the Newberry Award it has.
The lead character is a child named Matt, who is treated like a pet. Some pets are pampered, some are abused and neglected, and Matt endures all this and everything in between. He is loved, but most people hate him because he is a clone. The hatred is expressed in shockingly virulent ways. There are heartbreaking passages describing how this bright, talented child survives incredible abuse and neglect. Matt's resilience and spirit are so inspiring, you will be moved, but not be depressed by these scenes.
There is a wonderful sense of immediacy in the descriptions of the huge estate where Matt lives--the center of a drug lord's empire.
Matt has people who care for him: a cook with other "special" talents, a bodyguard with a dark past, and a sweet-hearted little girl. They serve as a surrogate family for Matt in the drug lord's wealthy household. The most compelling character is the ancient drug-lord himself; Matt is his clone, and loves him, even though the old man is corrupt and evil.
The engaging and complex characters alone would make this novel stand out, but there is also an excellent plot and story. A bildungsroman perfect for any bright young person, or any adult who craves good fiction.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is the best book I've ever read I love how this book has everything. I was hooked the whole time it all starts out with this kid named Matteo Alacran who lives with a girl named Celia who live in a poppy field the size of 4 football fields combined Matteo (or matt) had been cut off from the world in which case he never played with kids the only thing he had was Celia who one day left for the market. 3 kids walked up to the house and asked him to play he couldn't answer knowing through the glass they couldn't here them so he grabbed a frying pan and took it through the window he ended up cutting his feet so one of the kids named Steven picked him up and brought him to the house where he found out he was one of the most hated creatures by man... a clone. He was kept in a room full of chicken litter and the only toys he had were old chicken bones his keeper (Rosa) who hated him more than anything. One day Celia was walking by and looked in his window in which case she saw he had been starved. Celia demanded the person who made matt come see what had happened turns out Matt's owner El Patron is one of the most powerful people in the world so he gave Matt the feast of his life but the creepy thing is that El Patron is 142 years old and in two days he's going to turn 143. But to Matt's surprise its also his birthday when he is turning 12 but then he try's to embarrass one of his best friends named Maria by making her give him one thing that would embarrass her beyond belief... a kiss. When she did it El Patron was overwhelmed with joy Matt finally realized he was beginning to be bossy but the only way he could calm down was music. In which case he demanded a music teacher everyone was so surprised because no one ever knew the El Patron had a musical side to him.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
This is a pretty cool book. It really shows the difference between what we see as ignorance and curiosity of young people. I mean, a lot of people were all talking about how cool all the other little fantasy books and stuff like that are, but I'd definitley rate this number one. The book is about this boy, Mat, who finds out that he is clone, and has to live trying to find out the meaning of his existence in some totally freaked up world. I mean it's really not very distant in the future, but when you have countries named Opium you know something's wrong. I find it interesting the way that he focused his mind off the discrimination against his own clone people in world. Also, this book shows the natural greed that humans have, and are willing to enslave people beyond their ability of thought; beyond hopelessness. Mat is a very intelligence person who has to learn that some things just "go bad" and we cannot love evil for true evil cannot ever really and truly love us back. It's quite a moral story definitely deserving all the prestigious honors on the front. You really should read, it's definitely worth the time. Intelligent and cool book.
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