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Summary and book reviews of The House of The Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

The House of The Scorpion

by Nancy Farmer

The House of The Scorpion
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2002, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2002, 308 pages

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Book Summary

With undertones of vampires, Frankenstein, dragons' hoards, and killing fields, Matt's story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for teenage fantasy fans.

At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacrán asks El Patrón's bodyguard, "How old am I?...I know I don't have a birthday like humans, but I was born."

"You were harvested," Tam Lin reminds him. "You were grown in that poor cow for nine months and then you were cut out of her."

To most people around him, Matt is not a boy, but a beast. A room full of chicken litter with roaches for friends and old chicken bones for toys is considered good enough for him. But for El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium -- a strip of poppy fields lying between the U.S. and what was once called Mexico -- Matt is a guarantee of eternal life. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA.

Chapter 1: In the Beginning

In the beginning there were thirty-six of them, thirty-six droplets of life so tiny that Eduardo could see them only under a microscope. He studied them anxiously in the darkened room.

Water bubbled through tubes that snaked around the warm, humid walls. Air was sucked into growth chambers. A dull, red light shone on the faces of the workers as they watched their own arrays of little glass dishes. Each one contained a drop of life.

Eduardo moved his dishes, one after the other, under the lens of the microscope. The cells were perfect -- or so it seemed. Each was furnished with all it needed to grow. So much knowledge was hidden in that tiny world! Even Eduardo, who understood the process very well, was awed. The cell already understood what color hair it was to have, how tall it would become, and even whether it preferred spinach to broccoli. It might even have a hazy desire for music or crossword puzzles. All that was hidden in the droplet.

...

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ABOUT THE BOOK
Matt 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, fourteen-year-old Matt escapes ...
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    National Book Awards
    2002

Reviews

Media Reviews

New York Times - Roger Sutton

The author ably keeps her elements in balance, so that the Dr. Frankenstein moments never become gratuitous; in fact, the unemotional narration at times seems detached, wary of lingering too long in any one place.

Publishers Weekly

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. Ages 11-14.

Kirkus Reviews

With undertones of vampires, Frankenstein, dragons' hoards, and killing fields, Matt's story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for SF fans. (Fiction. 11+)

School Library Journal - Susan L. Rogers

Gr 6-10. Fans of Farmer's work will seek out this title. Some readers may be put off by its length, but those who dive in will find it worth the effort.

Reader Reviews

Jordan (7th Grade)

Best book
I love this book and I really wish that it would have had a longer series. I've also read the Lord of Opium. 5/5 for both books.

legenddarkrai

AWESOME!
I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS BOOK!!! It gave lots of exciting things and I like how there were different sections. I think the ending is really cool, yet sad. But overall, I LOVED IT!!

Lia

House of the Scorpion
This book was amazing!!! I had to read it for a book club and didn't think it was convincing by the back of the book. I fell head over heals for this book and couldn't put it down. I highly recommend this book if you like the following genres: ...   Read More

Blake

Awesome
My biology teacher assigned my grade a project, make a model and present it to her, or read a book. We had an option of three books. I chose this one. I'm sure glad I did! I loved it! Everyone is saying its long... its not that long, only 380 pages. ...   Read More

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