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Cover image for The house of the scorpion
Format:
Title:
The house of the scorpion
ISBN:
9781402545566

9781402545573

9780689852237

9780743572460
Publication Information:
Prince Frederick, Md. : Recorded Books, ℗2003.
Physical Description:
11 audio discs (12 hr., 30 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
Number in series:
01
General Note:
Unabridged.

Compact discs.
Summary:
In a future where humans despise clones, Matt enjoys special status as the young clone of El Patrón, the 142-year-old leader of a corrupt drug empire nestled between Mexico and the United States.
Reading Level:
Young Adult.
Added Author:
Holds:

Available:*

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TEEN CD FICTION Farmer
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Summary

Summary

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.


Reviews 10

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-10-In a possible near future, the United States and Mexico have dealt with their continuing border troubles by forming a third country called Opium. It is run by drug lords who control opium production using the labor of humanoid "eejits" with computer chips in their brains. Matt has spent the first six years of his life in isolation until the day he is discovered by three children and taken to the big house. The adults treat the boy like an animal, but with superficial deference once they realize he is a clone of El Patr-n, the supreme ruler of Opium. Scientific advances have made it possible for the man to live to be 142, via transplanted organs harvested from clones, most of whom have their brains stunted at birth. Matt was spared this fate and is educated as a conceit of El Patr-n. At 14, with the death of the old man, he is able to flee from Opium. He is caught and detained in a work camp/orphanage, but with the help of his new friends, he escapes and returns to Opium to try to right the wrongs of the past. The novel's well-described, exotic setting is a background for imaginative science fiction that looks at the social implications of technological advances. The multilayered story raises many issues, and doesn't always resolve them in obvious ways. Fans of Farmer's work will seek out this title. Some readers may be put off by its length, but those who dive in will find it worth the effort.-Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publisher's Weekly Review

In our Best Books citation, PW wrote, "In this eerily realistic depiction of society 100 years hence, the wealthy class harvests the organs of clones to prolong their lives. Farmer explores vital and soul-searching questions about what it means to be human." Ages 11-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Horn Book Review

(Middle School, High School) Between the United States and Aztln lies a narrow strip of land called Opium, where eejits, controlled by computer chips implanted in their brains, tend endless fields of poppies. This area is ruled by iron-fisted El Patr-n, the patriarch of the Alacrn family, who with the help of numerous transplants has lived over 140 years. Matt Alacrn is the key to El Patr-n's future, and though he feels loved by the old man who truthfully calls him Mi Vida, he is treated with thorough distaste by almost everyone because he is a clone. Unlike most clones whose brains are destroyed at birth, Matt, as El Patr-n's clone, has been raised by a loving woman, and after a brief period of imprisonment, educated and allowed free run of the estate. Matt often wonders about his future, but when he finally grasps what lies ahead for him, he realizes he must make a desperate attempt to escape. Though certain portions of the book go on far too long, other parts of the story are riveting. Suspense and tension continue right up to the book's conclusion when Matt is asked to do something that could easily result in the loss of the life for which he has fought so fiercely. Then suddenly all problems are resolved in an ending that seems too good to be true. Still, Farmer has shown great imagination in creating a unique and plausible view of the future with enough connections to current issues to make her vision particularly disquieting. Throughout the story, she has raised questions about the meaning of life and death and about the nature of one's responsibility for others, and in so doing, has created a thought-provoking piece of science fiction. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

Matt Alacran has spent his youth secreted away in a secluded hut, his only knowledge of the world provided by his caregiver Celia and his view out the window on the white ocean of poppies growing all around. Matt is a clone, an outcast hated and feared as a beast by human society. When he uses an iron cooking pot to smash his window and goes out into the world, Matt sets into motion a fantastic adventure in a land called Opium, a strip of land between the US and a place once called Mexico. Opium is ruled by El Patr-n, a 142-year-old drug lord, inhabited by "eejits"-docile farm workers controlled by brain implants-and overseen by an army of bodyguards. Farmer's tale is a wild, futuristic coming-of-age story with a science-fiction twist: How do you find out who you are when what you are is a clone-a photograph-of a human being. How have you come to exist, and for what purpose? Can you ever expect to be more than what you were designed to be? As demonstrated in The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm (1994), Farmer has a talent for creating exciting tales in beautifully realized, unusual worlds. With undertones of vampires, Frankenstein, dragons' hoards, and killing fields, Matt's story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for SF fans. (Fiction. 11+)


Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-10. Young Matteo (Matt) Alacran is a clone of the original Matteo Alacran, known as El Patron, the 142-year-old absolute ruler of Opium, a country separating the U.S. and Aztlan, once known as Mexico. In Opium, mind-controlled slaves care for fields of poppies, and clones are universally despised. Matt, on El Patron's orders, is the only clone whose intelligence has not been blunted. While still quite young, Matt is taken from the loving care of El Patron's cook and placed into the abusive hands of a maid, who treats him like an animal. At 7, brought to El Patron's attention, he begins an indulged life, getting an education and musical training, though he is never allowed to forget that he is not considered human. Matt doesn't learn until he is 14 that El Patron has had other clones, who have provided hearts and other organs so El Patron can go on living. This is a powerful, ultimately hopeful, story that builds on today's sociopolitical, ethical, and scientific issues and 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, in which a boy's self-image and right to life are at stake. --Sally Estes


School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-10-In a possible near future, the United States and Mexico have dealt with their continuing border troubles by forming a third country called Opium. It is run by drug lords who control opium production using the labor of humanoid "eejits" with computer chips in their brains. Matt has spent the first six years of his life in isolation until the day he is discovered by three children and taken to the big house. The adults treat the boy like an animal, but with superficial deference once they realize he is a clone of El Patr-n, the supreme ruler of Opium. Scientific advances have made it possible for the man to live to be 142, via transplanted organs harvested from clones, most of whom have their brains stunted at birth. Matt was spared this fate and is educated as a conceit of El Patr-n. At 14, with the death of the old man, he is able to flee from Opium. He is caught and detained in a work camp/orphanage, but with the help of his new friends, he escapes and returns to Opium to try to right the wrongs of the past. The novel's well-described, exotic setting is a background for imaginative science fiction that looks at the social implications of technological advances. The multilayered story raises many issues, and doesn't always resolve them in obvious ways. Fans of Farmer's work will seek out this title. Some readers may be put off by its length, but those who dive in will find it worth the effort.-Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publisher's Weekly Review

In our Best Books citation, PW wrote, "In this eerily realistic depiction of society 100 years hence, the wealthy class harvests the organs of clones to prolong their lives. Farmer explores vital and soul-searching questions about what it means to be human." Ages 11-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Horn Book Review

(Middle School, High School) Between the United States and Aztln lies a narrow strip of land called Opium, where eejits, controlled by computer chips implanted in their brains, tend endless fields of poppies. This area is ruled by iron-fisted El Patr-n, the patriarch of the Alacrn family, who with the help of numerous transplants has lived over 140 years. Matt Alacrn is the key to El Patr-n's future, and though he feels loved by the old man who truthfully calls him Mi Vida, he is treated with thorough distaste by almost everyone because he is a clone. Unlike most clones whose brains are destroyed at birth, Matt, as El Patr-n's clone, has been raised by a loving woman, and after a brief period of imprisonment, educated and allowed free run of the estate. Matt often wonders about his future, but when he finally grasps what lies ahead for him, he realizes he must make a desperate attempt to escape. Though certain portions of the book go on far too long, other parts of the story are riveting. Suspense and tension continue right up to the book's conclusion when Matt is asked to do something that could easily result in the loss of the life for which he has fought so fiercely. Then suddenly all problems are resolved in an ending that seems too good to be true. Still, Farmer has shown great imagination in creating a unique and plausible view of the future with enough connections to current issues to make her vision particularly disquieting. Throughout the story, she has raised questions about the meaning of life and death and about the nature of one's responsibility for others, and in so doing, has created a thought-provoking piece of science fiction. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

Matt Alacran has spent his youth secreted away in a secluded hut, his only knowledge of the world provided by his caregiver Celia and his view out the window on the white ocean of poppies growing all around. Matt is a clone, an outcast hated and feared as a beast by human society. When he uses an iron cooking pot to smash his window and goes out into the world, Matt sets into motion a fantastic adventure in a land called Opium, a strip of land between the US and a place once called Mexico. Opium is ruled by El Patr-n, a 142-year-old drug lord, inhabited by "eejits"-docile farm workers controlled by brain implants-and overseen by an army of bodyguards. Farmer's tale is a wild, futuristic coming-of-age story with a science-fiction twist: How do you find out who you are when what you are is a clone-a photograph-of a human being. How have you come to exist, and for what purpose? Can you ever expect to be more than what you were designed to be? As demonstrated in The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm (1994), Farmer has a talent for creating exciting tales in beautifully realized, unusual worlds. With undertones of vampires, Frankenstein, dragons' hoards, and killing fields, Matt's story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for SF fans. (Fiction. 11+)


Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-10. Young Matteo (Matt) Alacran is a clone of the original Matteo Alacran, known as El Patron, the 142-year-old absolute ruler of Opium, a country separating the U.S. and Aztlan, once known as Mexico. In Opium, mind-controlled slaves care for fields of poppies, and clones are universally despised. Matt, on El Patron's orders, is the only clone whose intelligence has not been blunted. While still quite young, Matt is taken from the loving care of El Patron's cook and placed into the abusive hands of a maid, who treats him like an animal. At 7, brought to El Patron's attention, he begins an indulged life, getting an education and musical training, though he is never allowed to forget that he is not considered human. Matt doesn't learn until he is 14 that El Patron has had other clones, who have provided hearts and other organs so El Patron can go on living. This is a powerful, ultimately hopeful, story that builds on today's sociopolitical, ethical, and scientific issues and 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, in which a boy's self-image and right to life are at stake. --Sally Estes


Table of Contents

Youth: 0 to 6
1. In the Beginningp. 2
2. The Little House in the Poppy Fieldsp. 5
3. Property of the Alacran Estatep. 15
4. Mariap. 25
5. Prisonp. 36
Middle Age: 7 to 11
6. El Patronp. 52
7. Teacherp. 65
8. The Eejit in the Dry Fieldp. 75
9. The Secret Passagep. 84
10. A Cat with Nine Livesp. 92
11. The Giving and Taking of Giftsp. 102
12. The Thing on the Bedp. 112
13. The Lotus Pondp. 122
14. Celia's Storyp. 136
Old Age: 12 to 14
15. A Starved Birdp. 146
16. Brother Wolfp. 156
17. The Eejit Pensp. 166
18. The Dragon Hoardp. 178
19. Coming-of-Agep. 186
20. Esperanzap. 194
21. Blood Weddingp. 203
22. Betrayalp. 215
Age 14
23. Deathp. 230
24. A Final Good-byep. 240
25. The Farm Patrolp. 248
La Vida Nueva
26. The Lost Boysp. 260
27. A Five-legged Horsep. 269
28. The Plankton Factoryp. 277
29. Washing a Dusty Mindp. 288
30. When the Whales Lost Their Legsp. 295
31. Ton-Tonp. 306
32. Found Outp. 317
33. The Boneyardp. 324
34. The Shrimp Harvesterp. 334
35. El Dia de los Muertosp. 345
36. The Castle on the Hillp. 353
37. Homecomingp. 363
38. The House of Eternityp. 373