Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The House of the Scorpion

by Nancy Farmer
Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 2002

Matt is an unusual child. He lives in a house in the woods with Celia and he never goes outside. He knows some about how the world works from watching television, but has never experienced anything himself. One day, children show up near the house and see him, banging on the door. He's afraid and enthralled. Soon, he's integrated into the bigger estate and the favored child of El Patrón, the 140-year-old lord of a country called Opium, situated between the United States and what used to be Mexico, which controls all the drug exports to the rest of the world. Matt is favored for a reason. He's the seventh clone of El Patrón, each and every one eventually killed through harvests of organs to keep El Patrón alive.

To say anymore about what happens would be the worst kind of spoiler, so I'll stop here and just say that this National Book Award Winner also won a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor. Farmer's story-telling skill and her ability to write such a futuristic story in such modern, every-day language are both part of the draw. There's a lot to wonder about here: what makes a person a person? Why and how are decisions made and institutions built? Who has the power and how did they get it?

Matt can help you ponder some of these questions and more.

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