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The House of the Scorpionby Nancy Farmer
Winner of the 2002 National Book Award for Young People's Literature
A 2003 Newbery Honor Book
A 2003 Michael L. Printz Honor Book
Winner of the 2005 Young Readers Choice Award (Junior Division)
Synopses & Reviews
Matteo Alacrán was not born; he was harvested. His DNA came from El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium — a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt's first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster — except for El Patrón. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself.
As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patrón's power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacran Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn't even suspect.
"Farmer's (A Girl Named Disaster; The Ear, the Eye and the Arm) novel may be futuristic, but it hits close to home, raising questions of what it means to be human, what is the value of life, and what are the responsibilities of a society. Readers will be hooked from the first page, in which a scientist brings to life one of 36 tiny cells, frozen more than 100 years ago. The result is the protagonist at the novel's center, Matt a clone of El Patrón, a powerful drug lord, born Matteo Alacrán to a poor family in a small village in Mexico. El Patrón is ruler of Opium, a country that lies between the United States and Aztlán, formerly Mexico; its vast poppy fields are tended by eejits, human beings who attempted to flee Aztlán, programmed by a computer chip implanted in their brains. With smooth pacing that steadily gathers momentum, Farmer traces Matt's growing awareness of what being a clone of one of the most powerful and feared men on earth entails. Through the kindness of the only two adults who treat Matt like a human Celia, the cook and Matt's guardian in early childhood, and Tam Lin, El Patrón's bodyguard Matt experiences firsthand the evils at work in Opium, and the corruptive power of greed ('When he was young, he made a choice, like a tree does when it decides to grow one way or the other... most of his branches are twisted,' Tam Lin tells Matt). The author strikes a masterful balance between Matt's idealism and his intelligence. The novel's close may be rushed, and Tam Lin's fate may be confusing to readers, but Farmer grippingly demonstrates that there are no easy answers. The questions she raises will haunt readers long after the final page. Ages 11-14." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Farmer has a talent for creating exciting tales in beautifully realized, unusual worlds....Matt's story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for SF fans." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[A] powerful, ultimately hopeful story that...prognosticates a compelling picture of what the future could bring. All of these serious issues are held together by a remarkable coming-of-age story." Booklist (Starred Review)
"[M]ind-expanding fiction." USA Today
"The novel's well-described, exotic setting is a background for imaginative science fiction....Some readers may be put off by its length, but those who dive in will find it worth the effort." School Library Journal
"[A] long but engrossing SF adventure....This will appeal to adventure story lovers as well as SF fans." Paula Rohrlick, KLIATT
"Farmer presents a fresh look at the coming of age theme....Despite a rather hasty and almost simplistic ending to the novel, the plot is engaging, and the characters are well developed and sympathetic." Erin Nita Miller, Alan Review
Now available in paperback — the recipient of the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, and a Printz Honor. In a future where humans despise clones, Matt enjoys special status as the young clone of El Patrâon, the 142-year-old leader of a corrupt drug empire nestled between Mexico and the United States.
This modern classic takes on an iron-fisted drug lord, clones bred for their organs, and what it means to be human. Winner of the National Book Award as well as Newbery and Printz Honors.
Matteo Alacrán was not born; he was harvested. His DNA came from El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium—a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt’s first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster—except for El Patrón. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself.
As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patrón’s power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacrán Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn’t even suspect.
M. Sindy Felin’s National Book Award finalist is in paperback for the first time. Karina has plenty to worry about on the last day of seventh grade: finding three Ds and a C on her report card again, getting laughed at by everyone again, being sent to the principal—again. But she’s too busy dodging the fists of her stepfather and looking out for her sisters to deal with school. This is the story of a young girl coming of age amidst the violent waters that run just beneath the surface of suburbia—a story that has the courage to ask: How far will you go to protect the ones you love?
The epic story of a young girl torn from her African village, sold into slavery, and stripped of everything she has ever known—except hope.
Matteo Alacran was not born; he was harvested with the DNA from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium. Can a boy who was bred to guarantee another’s survival find his own purpose in life? And can he ever be free?
About the Author
Nancy Farmer has written three Newbery Honor books, including The House of the Scorpion; The Ear, the Eye and the Arm; and A Girl Named Disaster. Other books include Do You Know Me, The Warm Place, and three picture books for young children. She grew up on the Arizona-Mexico border in the landscape she evokes so strongly in this novel. She lives with her family in Menlo Park, California.
Table of Contents
YOUTH: 0 TO 6
1. In the Beginning
2. The Little House in the Poppy Fields
3. Property of the Alacrán Estate
MIDDLE AGE: 7 TO 11
6. El Patrón
8. The Eejit in the Dry Field
9. The Secret Passage
10. A Cat with Nine Lives
11. The Giving and Taking of Gifts
12. The Thing on the Bed
13. The Lotus Pond
14. Celia's Story
OLD AGE: 12 TO 14
15. A Starved Bird
16. Brother Wolf
17. The Eejit Pens
18. The Dragon Hoard
21. Blood Wedding
24. A Final Good-bye
25. The Farm Patrol
LA VIDA NUEVA
26. The Lost Boys
27. A Five-legged Horse
28. The Plankton Factory
29. Washing a Dusty Mind
30. When the Whales Lost Their Legs
32. Found Out
33. The Boneyard
34. The Shrimp Harvester
35. El Día de los Muertos
36. The Castle on the Hill
38. The House of Eternity
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