When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story’s voice makes everything its own.
-- John Berger

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9 stars

The House of the Scorpion

AR: 6.1
Lexile: 660
by Nancy Farmer
Long Picture Book
Genre: Adventurous Fantasy Science Fiction

Newberry Honor Award

Matt Alacran is 6 years old when he hears others call him a "clone" for the first time. He quickly learns that others on the poppy farm where he lives consider him even lower than the mind-controlled field workers. He is despised yet he is protected because he is not just any clone: he belongs to 140-year old El Patr?n, the most powerful and feared drug lord in the country of Opium. As Matt grows older, he learns much from El Patr?n, even as he grows to realize that this old man who appears to care so much for him is actually terribly evil. Finally, when various events occur, Matt is forced to make decisions and take actions that are physically and emotionally horrific but that will ultimately decide not only his own fate but the fate of so many others!

WOW! This is such a powerful book! It's a futuristic story yet it sounds like it could happen next year. (Duh! Next year, IS the future!) I mean that it sounds very believable. It made me nervous, excited, interested, and it made me think about a lot of things like the morality of violence, drugs, cloning, and mind-control. Even if you don't care about thinking about those things, I highly recommend this book to kids age 12 and up, especially to boys! I finished all 380 pages in four days (and I read VERY slowly); I couldn't put it down!

(Last modified:08/19/2006)


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