Published by Simon and Schuster on May 11th 2010
Genres: young adult
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.
In April, I (Pixie) picked The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer to be the Forgotten Friday book. Lyn and I dove into it, but as you can see our post is a couple of weeks late. We really didn’t want to just forget this discussion and thought better late than never!
Pixie: So The House of the Scorpion was actually our April FF and we are soooo behind. LOL. But that’s life. What did you think of it?
Lyn: I was surprised how much I liked it I thought it was one of Farmer’s best!
Pixie: I don’t think I’ve read any of Farmer’s. If I had, I don’t remember. I picked it for the read though because it sounded really interesting and unusual to what I normally go after. After having read so little so far this year, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I really ended up enjoying it myself.
Lyn: Nancy Farmer seems to always write some amazing books. I learned about her when I was in college during an assignment. She always has something clever and amazing! I never thought this one would be so in depth. It is hard to know what you are getting into by just reading the description. I just picked it up years ago because all of the awards on the cover!
Pixie: That was one of the main things that attracted me first: the awards. Then I’d never even heard of the book, like it’s some big secret awesome story. LOL. I agree, it’s really much more in depth than from what you gather on reading the back cover. I went into expecting one thing, and got a lot more than I thought. And the characterization for each one is crazy good.
Lyn: was was your favorite part? I really loved the friendship between Matt and Tam Lin. It was touching to see that much kindness, when the book had such a sad, depressing outlook at the start.
Pixie: I also really liked the relationship between Matt and his bodyguard, too. That was probably my favorite relationship in the book, besides between him and Celia. I really liked the beginning as he was realizing what he was during the start and the transition of him growing up more. The part when he first met El Patron was a little emotional to me. It was such a sad start though. I felt so much for Matt throughout all of his hardships.
Lyn: the loneliness in the novel stood out, and even though Matt was making some horrible decisions, it was easy to see why he took kindness, when he could get it. That was something else about the book. The author doesn’t hide what is going to happen, but it still is such a horrible shock when it happens. Without trying in the least, this novel was able to reach right into my chest and squeeze my heart. I hurt with Matt and I laughed with him, and I was embarrassed and ashamed when he acted like his “dad”. My only downfall was that I never ended up caring for Maria too much. She felt way too “damsel in distress” fir my taste, and she annoyed me to no end.
Pixie: Right? I am on your side with Maria. She was really sweet, but I just never attached to her character. She felt like a forced character that perhaps was more obligation to need romance and attract the audience in a way, but I have to say she could have been no character at all and I would still have liked this book.
Lyn: right? She was romance fodder, and I felt that her placement was just unnatural. It was just another reason to hate Tom, but there was enough to hate that little twerp. But it was like that one last link was forced into the story.
I will also say that I wish there based been more time with the boys in the orphanage. I ended up falling in love with them, and I thought I was going to try to hurry through the last part of the book. But matt’s yearning for acceptance and friendship made this part stand out, and it was so fun to see the evolution of the new side characters. This really could have been two books.
Pixie: Exactly. Took the words right out of my mouth… or rather, the words out of my fingertips. 😛
Something I really liked that didn’t have much to do with the characters but the whole overall novel in general is that I liked the language of it. A good portion and dialogue goes into Spanish at times (with translations), but I just really loved that. It made it stand out. And I wish I could find more books like this.
Lyn: There must have been some research for this, because the culture and the language really played such a big part in the book. This was very well crafted, and coming from an area with a large Mexican population, I could really feel how much care went into this novel.
Pixie: Yes, so much yes. Were you as upset as me when reaching the end? I kind of went into it thinking it was a stand-alone. My fault. LOL. So when I reached the end I realized it wasn’t and I just had wanted it to keep going.
Lyn: I had no idea there was another book until I went to add it on Goodreads. I was like, Wait, series info???? I am curious where the next one is going to go, since the book tied up everything so well, but I suppose Matt’s story isn’t over, and now I want the other book.
Pixie: Me too. At first I thought I wouldn’t read the rest of the series, tbh, because I didn’t want to have a disappointing sequel after such a good book. The ending does seem to tie up, with few questions left, so I didn’t know if there’d been a need. But like you said, his story isn’t over and I think I’ll be ordering the next just to revisit his character and the world Farmer created here.
Lyn: might as well, since the story is so fresh! Is there anything else to cover?
Pixie: I’m pretty good on my end. I didn’t want to give too much away, but it’s complex and I just have to say I’ll be recommending it to everyone. Haha.
Lyn: this MG is sorely overlooked, and it might seem dry from the outside, but this is a good one! I gave it four stars.
Pixie: Exactly… and I gave it a solid 5 stars. I don’t give those much!
Lyn: Certified fresh book!!!
Don’t miss out on May’s FF at the end of the month. 🙂