The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

March 8, 2012
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Thinking on a rarely touched topic, Nancy Farmer takes up the task to write, “The House of the Scorpion,” a significant book on the consequences of cloning. Matt is El Patron’s clone, and clones were widely hated, which is why Celia, the cook, hid him from others. However, some children ventured near Celia’s house while she was away, and found Matt, who injured himself while trying to climb out of the window to play with them. The children rush him back to where they’re from, and while cleansing his foot of glass shards, they find writing on his foot that reads: Property of the Alacràn Estate. From that, they figure out Matt is a clone, and lock him up under terrible conditions, until El Patron finds out and puts a stop to it. Matt has a lot of good times being around El Patron, and having power because El Patron had a lot of wealth and power. However, as El patron grows older, Matt realizes that the world isn’t as perfect as it seems, especially for clones. In my opinion, this book is one that everyone should read, because of its characters, theme, plot, and writing strategy. This book has won three awards, and I believe it deserves every single one of them.

First of all, “The House of the Scorpion” has very well developed characters. Farmer is able to make the characters and their problems realistic. Their personalities are easy to identify, (not counting the mysterious characters) and everything they say or do sounds realistic. In some cases in other books, what characters choose to do or say sounds phony, and bot something someone of their type could possible attempt to do or say. For instance, lets take a look at Rosa, a biased lady: “That night, when Rosa brought him dinner, Matt asked when Maria was coming back. ‘Never!’ snarled the maid. ‘She and her sister have been sent home, and I say good riddance! Just because their father’s a senator, the Mendoza girls think they can turn their noses up at us. Pah! Senator Mendoza isn’t too proud to have his paw out when El Patrón hands around money!’” (36) This shows the biased remark from Rosa, complaining about the higher rank. I can easily imagine someone I know who’s biased saying that. Not only that, but the characters develop as the story continues.

Not only are the characters amazing, but so is the plot, and the theme. Before reading this book, I admit, I never gave a second thought to the subject of cloning, especially from the point of view of the clone himself. With this book, Farmer shows us that everything should be treated equally, because we’re all the same; clone, animal, human. There are many scenes where Matt is treated unequally, “‘It’s a sullen, evil tempered animal,’ she said. The doctor sighed. ‘Clones go that way in the end. I did think this one was brighter than most.’” (43) Imagine how Matt would feel upon hearing that. I am able to pretend I am the one being criticized, and.....it hurts. This story also hints that the world is not perfect; always be open to what could possibly be out there. And in this book, there are also many, many other minor themes imbedded as well.

Last but not least, this book has the most amazing writing strategies. Even in the calm, non action parts, which are rare, I feel inclined to read the part in detail, and soak up every single word like a sponge. The descriptions are so rich I can see everything happening right in front of me. For instance, “‘Assume the position,’ said Jorge. Ton-ton stumbled to a wall. he leaned against it with his arms stretched out before him and his hands flat against the wall. He spread his legs. ‘Remember, if you move, it will be worse for you.’ Ton-ton nodded. The keeper unlocked a small storage closet and selected a cane. Matt could see that they were of all sizes. Jorge took his time making the decision. Ton-ton whimpered softly.” You can just taste the suspense this part gives. The words are just dribbling off your chin. You just can’t put it down. And that is exactly the effect great literature gives.

All in all, this was a magnificent book, with amazing writing strategies, plot, theme, and characters. Everyone should add this book into their lists of “to read”. They won’t regret it. This book makes an impact on your life....and impact that lasts for eternity.





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