Book Review: The House of the Scorpion
Written by Nancy Farmer
Review by Victor Lien, age 13
Matteo Alacrán never had a choice about how to live his life.
The House of the Scorpion, a novel by Nancy Farmer, tells a futuristic
story about a country located between the United States and Mexico. The
country is named after its most popular crop -- Opium. Matt is a clone
of El Patrón, the patriarch of the powerful, wealthy, and corrupt
was born into the hard life of a clone. Created in a petri dish and put
inside the womb of a cow, Matt developed from embryo, to fetus, and
eventually to baby. In this society, clones are despised and treated
like animals. Matt struggles to understand why he was created,
repeatedly asking the question: does being a clone really make you that
Matt lives alone in an isolated little house
in a poppy field, where nothing ever happens. He has never left the
house, and the only people he has ever interacted with are his
caretaker, Celia, and a doctor. But one day, things change. When Matt
finally sees other children approach the house, he is both terrified and
excited. This first encounter leads him out of the house on a long
journey to discover who he truly is.
Matt encounters a
variety of challenges and hardships on the road to his fate. His story
takes him to the wealthy Alacrán estate, a plankton factory with other
Lost Boys, and finally to the country of Aztlán, previously known as
Mexico. He encounters hateful characters like Tom, a young relative of
El Patrón, but also makes friends and learns life lessons from his
bodyguard Tam Lin. The images used to describe these events and
characters are one of my favorite aspects of the book – these images
make Matt’s journey come alive.
I highly recommend this
book to middle school students who like reading books with colorful
characters. I think this book is especially great for young readers. It
introduces topics and ideas very interesting to young people like
discrimination, corruption and growing up. I read this book along with
other students in a Simpson Street Free Press book club, and we found
the plot interesting to discuss.
The House of the
Scorpion is a wonderful novel with excellent writing, storyline, and
characters. Do not be intimidated by the length of the book, you will
flip through all of the pages before you know it. This book is one of my
favorites, and I am sure it will continue to be for a very long time.