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Author: Nancy Farmer

Reserve at the Library

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers,

Material: paperback

Summary: Matteo Alacran lives in a Dystopian, futuristic society. He eats, sleeps, plays like a normal boy, but Matt is anything but normal. He is a clone of El Patron, drug lord and ruler of the country of Opium. Society sees Matt (and all clones) as an animal, a creature with no rights or feelings. His maid abuses him and he is treated like dirt. El Patron rescues him, ordering Celia and Tam Lin, a bodyguard, to protect Matt. After years of living in the estate, he escapes death and travels south into Mexico. There, he is captured by "Keepers." Matt must escape and change the ways of the land of Opium and redeem El Patron's evil empire. Can he do it? This is a Dystopian science fiction novel that is an excellent choice for teens who need high interest / low readability options.

Type of Reading: independent reading

Recommended Age: read together: 10 and up; read yourself: 10 and up

Interest Level: 10 and up

Reading Level: 5.1

Age of Child: Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™

Young Reader Reaction: The House of the Scorpion is a gripping novel depicting the struggle between science and humanity. It is a great read for any teenager who enjoys science-fiction or thrillers. Nancy Farmer truly knows how to keep a reader coming back for more. As we learn more about Matteo Alacran's life and the society he lives in, Farmer inserts issues like immigration, drug use, slavery, and labor rights in a very real way. One can't help but question: Is this in our future? All-in-all, Nancy Farmer's novel The House of the Scorpion is a creative, dynamic science-fiction read

Adult Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Pros: This is a page-turner of the first order. Teens (and adults) will be intrigued by the story and walk away with questions about the balance between life and science.

Cons: Although The House of the Scorpion has great ideas and wonderful characters, the plot comes apart at the end. With a great beginning and captivating middle, the conclusion to the novel just isn't satisfying. It still leaves some vital questions unanswered.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This one is "haunting" enough that you may come back to it looking for answers to some of the questions it raises.

If You Liked This Book, Try: The Samuraiís Tale by Erik Haugaard; The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer; A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer GONE   THE PROMETHEUS PROJECT: CAPTURED   GALAHAD 1: THE COMET'S CURSE

Educational Themes: There are lots of real-life themes woven into this fictional story. This would be a great selection for a book club read.

Notes: A Reading Tub® volunteer submitted this review. She borrowed the book from the local library.

Literary Categories: Fiction - young adult, science fiction, coming of age, multicultural, speculative fiction

Date(s) Reviewed: December 2011

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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