November 13, 2010

Review of "The House of Scorpion"

"The House of Scorpions"
Nancy Farmer


Pub. Date: September 1, 2002

Synopsis: 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 Opium with the help of Celia and Tam Lin, his devoted bodyguard who wants to right his own wrongs. After a near misadventure in his escape, Matt makes his way back home and begins to rid the country of its evils.

"The House of Scorpion" fell a little flat for me. The plot was really interesting, but the characters weren't my favorite. I liked Matt, but I wanted to punch him in the face at certain points throughout the book. I struggled with this book because I understood why the author chose to make his character so hard to like and it worked well with the plot, but I have trouble reading books when I don't like the main character. I actually had trouble liking most of the characters in the book. I would say that I maybe liked half the characters in the book, but the best characters didn't show up until about halfway through.

I like how Farmer explored cloning in "The House of Scorpion". Parts of the book were hard to read because of how the clones were treated. It was also interesting to see how technology was used to enslave both humans and animals in Farmer's world. The Eejits were super creepy, but at the same time I felt terrible for them. It was also hard to read about how orphans were treated in Aztlan and how the government was able to control the ideas of the people. Technology was not the only weapon used as a means of control, drugs and psychology also played a large role in "The House of Scorpion"

The future portrayed in "The House of Scorpion" is terrifying, but at the same time it is not unbelievable. I think I would have liked this book more if I was in a book group and had people to discuss it with, but I kind of just felt frustrated at the characters through most of the story. I love how the book ended, but I had trouble getting through the first two thirds of the book. I guess what it comes down to is that the English major in me really liked the book, but the reader in me thought it moved a bit too slow and struggled with the characters. After even writing this review I feel like I should give the book a better rating, but I can't say I "really liked" the book while reading it. Lots of other people LOVE this book, so if you like sci-fi then this book will probably be right up your alley.


  1. I actually did really like this one and I'm usually very critical of science fiction especially with cloning things. But like you said the MC wasn't all that likeable. I would read the sequel - if she ever writes one.

    Nice review!

  2. Thanks Angie, I'm glad to hear that you really enjoyed it. :)