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The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
The House of the Scorpion is about Matteo Alacran who wasn’t born and is the clone of a notorious drug lord called El Patron. The book takes you throughout Matt’s life from his early years to his teen years and is mostly about telling you of how Matt gets raised, finds his few allies, and meets several enemies, and later on trying to either escape or confront these enemies with help from his few allies. While at the same time having to deal with thinking what he actually is. The genre of this book is science fiction. It has won numerous book awards including the Newberry Honor Book, the National Book Award, and the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in youth aptitude by the American Library Association(ALA)
The setting is Opium(based off the Chiricahua mountains) throughout most of the book. Opium is a fictional country which is in some land between the United States and Aztlan (Mexico). It is first set in a small house in which Celia and Matt lived for a while before Matt is sent to the Alacran Estate which is the main building for all of the Alacrans. Later on it takes Matt to Aztlan then to the city of San Luis. After that he returns to Opium. It is set in the future
The Protagonist in the story is Matteo Alarcran, who is mostly referred to as Matt by most of the characters throughout the story. Matt is the clone of El Patron and is somewhat rebellious. This character in my opinion was well made and the author shows his development along with all the other characters greatly because you are taken through his life up to the middle to late teens in this book. It also shows the troubling ordeal of him having to struggle with his identity as an individual after realizing he is a clone of El Patron.
Some of his allies are Maria who is a person Matt had first met as a child and had caught his interest. She is the daughter of Senator Mendoza, who is politically powerful in the U.S, and the mother that had abandoned her at age five Esperanza. She is shown to be kind and caring at most times. Some examples being when Maria, her sister Emilia, and her sisters’ friend Steven, the son of El Patron’s Great Grandson Mr. Alacran, had found the house she tried not to get Celia in trouble. Then she still acts towards Matt as a friend even after knowing he is a clone, and is said to have later on in the city of San Luis to have rescued stray cats even if they were to only have three legs. I believe that since she was the only friend at the same age as Matt she played an important part. After Maria is Celia.
Celia had raised Matt for a couple of years before Matt was taken to the Estate. She cares for Matt a lot and is quite the brave person because she even stood up to El Patron. Her importance in my mind as a character would be of a motherly figure towards Matt. After Celia comes Tam Lin.
Tam Lin was originally the bodyguard for El Patron but when Matt was given a choice to take either Tam Lin or Daft Donald as a bodyguard he chose Tam Lin since he thought he saw some friendliness. Tam Lin wasn’t that great at writing and is okay with speaking. Tam Lin was great with stuff involving the outdoors. A long time ago Tam Lin had in his past done some horrible crime. Tam Lin went exploring with Matt a lot and showed him secret places and how to survive longer in the wilderness. Tam Lin seems to be guilty about what he had done and tries to make amends later on in the story. To me Tam Lin seems to be like a father to Matt and at the same time a sort of best friend.
Tam Lin’s accomplice in the incident was Donald Daft, who after this incident had lost his ability to speak from an injury, and Daft was also an ally to Matt while previously being El Patron’s bodyguard. Donald Daft wasn’t that important expect for the end where he told Matt about what had happened to cause the situation at Opium. Another person who worked at the Estate who was an ally was Matt’s music teacher.
He played no big role really but I think of him as an ally to Matt because he was gathered with Celia and Daft.
Maria’s Mother Esperanza is somewhat an unknown character for know because I’ve heard there is news of a sequel which I am guessing will explore more of her character. But what is known is that Esperanza has some sort of political power, abandoned her daughters when they were young, and is set on her goal of getting rid of Opium. It feels to me that she is only an ally due to the common goals shared between her and Matt.
The final two allies that reoccur are Chacho and Fidelito. These two are Lost Boys that Matt had first met at the compound he was kept in before he and the other two were move to the Plankton Factory. To me these characters seem to be important since they were some of the first few friends Matt had found.
Two somewhat important groups were the Lost Boys and Eejits. The lost boys were orphans some of which believed that their families lived across the border in the U.S and were going to send for them. They were also used as workers. The Lost Boys importance was that Matt had met this group and was a part of it when he first crossed the border and went to the plankton factory also this group included Chacho and Fidelito.
The other group isn’t so important until the end of the story leading on to the sequel which hasn’t been released. This group is the Eejits who are illegal immigrants trying to get from either the U.S to Aztlan or from Aztlan to the U.S, but were caught by the Farm Patrol (Group who catches the immigrants) and sent to Opium. Then they had computer chips that were put into their brains that only let them do certain things. The importance they held in the end was of becoming part of Matt’s goal which can be read in the book.
The main Antagonist would be El Patron the long living drug lord of Opium. He is a selfish and wicked man. El Patron had clones created so that when his organs weren’t functioning well anymore he could take the organs of the clones and use them to live on longer. He tricked Matt for a while by making Matt think of him as a friend and by raising Matt well, but that was only for the fact that Matt was his clone and his clone in a sense was him. It shows this when before his death he calls Matt over and asks for something as repayment for all his kindness. Luckily Matt was saved by Celia who had threatened El Patron.
The other antagonists would be the Alacran’s who treated Matt as an animal and nothing more.
Then there was Senator Mendoza and Emilia who also treated him as such.
The last antagonist would be the drug lord Mr. MacGregor who treated Matt as tool to extend life.
I know I have told you a lot anyways like what I thought the characters were and their importance, the setting, and somethings about the book in general but if you want to know more you can read the books or you could look at the basic outline with some key events that I have. Even if you do this it should still be good to read the book. To read the basic outline start reading from the next paragraph.
The story’s outline is basically that of Matt getting raised by Celia. Then getting found by Maria, Emilia, and Steven in Celia’s home. Afterwards following them and stepping on glass which caused him to get injured. Following this he gets taken over to the estate to be taken care of by doctors. Not soon after he is for a while locked in a cell and treated like an animal. After that he meets El Patron who at first acts kind to him and provides him with education and everything else. Getting the body guard Tam Lin. Then going on adventures with Tam Lin. Sometime later El Patron has a heart attack and reveals his true purposes by asking for Matt’s organs. But after El Patron gets threatened by Celia he dies from another heart attack. Since they fear Matt could rise as the new drug lord they have ordered to be killed. Then Tam Lin helps Matt escape. Matt meets the Lost Boys. He works at the first compound for a while. While he is there he finds new friends in Chacho and Fidelito. After his short stay there he is sent to a Plankton Factory with them. Matt escapes from the Factory and heads to find Esperanza and Maria. He finds them. The Factory is then busted. Soon he hears about the lock down of Opium. And heads over there to check out what is going on. The rest is what can be read in the book even though there’s no point in hiding it.