Friday, December 3, 2010

Book Review: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and "focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc."

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer 
Publisher: Atheneum
Publication date: September 2002
ISBN: 9780689852237

Source: Library book club set and I own a copy, cause I love it so much!

The House of the Scorpion

Matteo is not your typical child.  He's a clone.  He spends the first years of his life alone with Celia, a servant, oblivious to what he is.  But, when he meets the family in the big house, he begins to learn just what being a clone means.  He's not human and no one treats him like that, except a very few people, including El Patron.  But, does El Patron treat him like a human because he is one or because of a more sinister interest in Matt?

Things I Liked:
I've loved this book since I first read it several years ago and this reread for my book group solidified my love.  There so much to discuss and think about!  I loved all of the ethical thoughts and questions that arise, simply because of the subject matter - human cloning.  Not only does it have these issues that make it interesting, but the story is fast-paced and you can't put the book down because you have to know what happens to Matt.  He is such an interesting character because you feel for him and all that he suffers, yet you also see he is flawed and makes stupid choices just like everyone else.  The world that slowly unfolds in the pages of the book is so interesting, because it feels real, like this is where our world is heading, which I think is a mark of a very good futuristic/dystopian book.  Great story, great characters, and our book group had a LOT to talk about.  It was a hit.  I think I like this one even more than The Hunger Games, which is really saying something!  All those shiny award stickers on the cover?  Totally deserves them.  One of my favorite parts:

What Matt hated about the creature was everyone's assumption that he and Furball were the same.  It didn't matter that Matt had excellent grades and good manners.  They were both animals and thus unimportant.  During Easter vacation Tom said good manners were no harder to learn than rolling over or playing dead.  Matt threw himself at him, and Maria ran shrieking for Tam Lin.  Tom was sent to his room without dinner.  Matt wasn't punished at all.  Which was okay with Matt, except that Furball wasn't punished for his crimes either.  He couldn't understand the difference between right and wrong.  He was a dumb beast and so, apparently, was Matt. p 85
Things I Didn't Like:
The beginning is a little slow, but picks right up after a few chapters.  I really wish we could have gotten a wider view of the world Farmer envisioned.  It seemed like there was so much more going on than just what happens in Opium and Aztlan (Mexico).  I'd really like for her to write another book set in this time and place (which I've heard is in the works).

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

s-factor: ! 
very few

mrg-factor: X
they talk about affairs, but nothing happens on page

v-factor: ->->
there is some rather frightening stuff, not much physical violence

Overall rating: *****

What's your most highly recommended futuristic/sci-fi/dystopian book?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. I've got this one on my to read list.

  2. When I read this with a book club a couple of years ago, I think I was the only one who really liked it. I love sci-fi that offers commentary on current society, and this book has so much of that!

  3. I absolutely loved this book. THanks for the memories. I read so much that a lot of those old books have been forgotten, but not this one. I can still remember how I felt when reading it.

  4. I LOVED this book too!! I'm actually featurin it today and I link to your review.


  5. Brenda, I hope you love it!

    alison, too bad about the rest of your book group - mine really enjoyed it for the most part. I love how it feels very contemporary.

    Annette, I am the same way - so glad I have a few that I can still remember :)

    Suey, yes!

    Jill, thanks for the shout out! So glad this book is getting the attention it deserves (again).

  6. I've never heard of this book. I might look it up. The best sci-fi book I've read would have to be "The Tomorrow Code" by Brian Faulkner. It was a really good read. And also "I,Robot" by good old Isaac Asimov. xD

  7. Nancy Farmer is one of my favorites, and I think this was the first of hers I read. Love it!

  8. BookMaid, I've been meaning to read The Tomorrow Code for a while now. I really ought to add it to my list.

    Shelley, me too! I've got to read The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm sometime soon.

  9. Yes, Tomorrow Code is worth the read.

    O.o The Ear The Eye and The Arm?! I've got that in my bookshelf, I haven't read it yet! *dashes off to add to "to read" list*

  10. BookMaid, I've added Tomorrow Code. I kinda wish I had Ear, Eye, Arm on my shelf - then I might get to it (or if I finally got it from the library that would definitely increase its odds :)


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