Book Review: The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer

house_scorpionThe House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer is a very interesting blend of science fiction and fantasy. It is a very powerful story that shocks its readers due to its graphic, and sometimes disturbing, subject matter. This book can be read by either gender, and anybody who reads this book will most likely enjoy it.  In it, a “boy” named Matteo Alcrán lives in a place between the United States and where Mexico once was.  But, Matteo is not really a boy. He is a clone harvested from the fields for the purpose of being a body part donor to rich elderly men.. Matteo is not any clone, however. He is the clone of the founder of Opium, an elderly man named El Patrón. Matteo is first raised by a worker of El Patrón’s, a woman named Cecelia, whom Matteo believes is his mother, because she loves him very much. One day when some children, relatives of El Patrón, find him and take him away, Matteo gets hurt and finds out the truth about himself.  El Patrón loves Matteo very much, and lets him live, grow up, and act like a normal boy. However, the rest of the Alcrán family, El Patrón’s relatives, do not like Matteo, and would like to see him dead.  Matteo is surrounded with bodyguards, who teach him the secrets of life.

By the time he turns 14, Matteo feels very special, and does not consider himself a clone anymore.  He then takes a turn for the worse, by ordering  slaves around and rudely demanding things of people. But when El Patrón become very sick, he needs a donor to give him a heart, and Matteo is chosen. However, something very surprising and shocking happens, and Matteo escapes, his head and heart confused and full of both betrayal and loyalty. Matteo is caught and brought to a harvesting plantation for boy orphans, where all the orphans do is harvest plankton, seaweed, and shrimp. The boys are given nothing to eat except plankton, and are treated horribly, until Matteo again escapes with the help of three boys named Ton Ton, Chacho, and Fidelito. They all struggle through the desert, until they finally arrive at a town, only to be greeted by the bosses at the orphanage, who try to kill them.  The boys overpower the men, and discover a very surprising ending, which will rivet anybody who reads this book. Overall, I highly recommend The House of the Scorpion for any teen.

-Will R., 8th grade

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