The House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer
Scenario: Matt’s childhood is unlike anyone else’s: he lives in isolation on the estate of a drug lord who rules Opium, the kingdom bordering Mexico and the U.S. It is only gradually that he learns why, and the terrible truth of his origins.
- I loved Farmer’s ability to write convincingly (but not cloyingly) from the perspective of a very young child at the book’s beginning — though I wonder if teens would have much patience with reading about a six-year-old.
- I think the ethical questions behind cloning, drugs, and industry are handled delicately here, without sacrificing narrative power.
- Farmer introduces a lot of compelling, shades-of-grey characters to guide Matt on his journey.
- I feel like there was a natural ending here that Farmer missed, and then trundled into unnecessary territory by covering a few more adventures. The pieces didn’t really fit to me, and I struggled to finish the last hundred pages or so after loving the rest.
Bottom Line: A pretty solid read that hews close enough to the popular dystopia stuff today to make it a good rec for many younger teens, despite its older publication date.