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Farmer, Nancy. The house of the scorpion.

FARMER, Nancy. The house of the scorpion. Simon & Schuster. 3800. c2002.0-68985223-1. $7,99. JS*

To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, September 2002: In a future world where an evil empire called Opium is tucked in between the U.S. and Aztlan (formerly Mexico), a young clone named Matt comes of age. His foot is tattooed "Property of the Alacran Estate"; he is the clone of El Patron, the cruel 142-year-old ruler of Opium. a drug kingdom farmed by "eejits," brain-dead clones. Matt has not has his brain deadened; he is a favorite of El Patron, reminding him of his lost youth, though the man's nasty, conspiring family hates Matt, considering him "livestock." Matt's other champions are a cook and a bodyguard, who conspire to save him from a fate of being harvested for organs for El Patron. A girl named Maria comes to love Matt, too, and when El Patron dies and the remaining family try to kill Matt, all his friends work to help him escape from the Alacran estate. Matt runs off to Aztlan but is captured and taken to an awful orphanage, which is more of a Nazi-style work camp. There he makes friends, helps incite a rebellion, and is thrown into a bone pit and almost dies. He escapes, finds Maria, and returns at last to his inheritance, the Alacran estate, with plans to undo the evil of El Patron.

This is a long but engrossing SF adventure by the Newbery Honor-winning author of A Girl Named Disaster, The Ear, the Eye and the Arm, and other books for young readers. Farmer grew up in Yuma. Arizona and evokes the landscape of this Mexican border area beautifully. Matt is an appealing hero, despised by many for being a clone but noble and brave in the face of the many hardships he encounters. He learns to value himself, ignoring the opinion of others, and comes to understand that he has the power to make change for good. This will appeal to adventure story lovers as well as SF fans. (National Book Award winner, Newbery Honor Book, and an ALA Best Book for YAs.) Paula Rohrlick, KLIATT
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Author:Rohrlick, Paula
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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