Farmer, Nancy. The House of the Scorpion. New York: Simon Pulse, 2002.
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Audience: 14 and up
Summary: The House of the Scorpion is about a boy named Matt that is used as a clone so that the drug lord that leads the country can harvest Matt’s organs when he needs them. At first Matt is stuck in the house all day, but he is discovered by three children that accept him for what he is. Others do not like Matt because he is a clone, but the friends stay close to him. The drug lord, El Patron, learns that Matt is being mistreated and saves him. Matt thinks that he will not be harvested and will rule the country when El Patron dies, but he is wrong when El Patron gets a near fatal heart attack and must need Matt’s organs.
Themes: A theme in this book is self-identity. Matt is constantly discriminated and then cared for in the book. His friends care about him, but then two of them betray him. El Patron cares for him and hires tutors to teach him, but he later needs to kill him in order to keep himself alive. Matt must find out who truly cares for him and who he can trust.
Another theme in this book is dealing with evil. Matt’s bodyguard and father figure Tam Lin admits that El Patron is corrupt and chooses to save Matt instead of killing him as instructed after El Patron dies. Tam Lin also deals with his own past evil by electing to drink the poison served at El Patron’s funeral to help escape his troubled past.
Connections: This book can be connected with other science fiction and fantasy books read in class. The science fiction allows the reader’s imagination to flow and imagine what it would be like to live in a world such as this. It also helps students see how drugs can affect our future and helps them see what can be done to help prevent that future from happening.
Reactions: I liked this book a lot. My main man James Black recommended this to me and I am glad that I took heed to what he had to say. The science fiction was realistic enough to where I did not have to try hard to understand the meaning of the things going on. I think it is a good tale of surviving against the odds and going from the bottom of society to becoming a leader.
Reception: A review by Amy Alessio agrees with my thoughts on the realism of the book. She says that Farmer does a great job of making a science fiction book that seems “eerily real.” All of the reviews on goodreads.com had great things to say about this book. They all say that it is a page turner that will capture the interest of anyone who reads it, and I would have to agree with them.