Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Book #10: USA/Arizona

Arrghh I’ve missed my Tuesday again. Round the World Wednesday sounds better anyway (-:

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

So I’m cheating a bit and counting US states as different countries... And the setting of this book is actually a country called Opium which sits around the border between present-day Mexico and the USA, where Arizona is now. But it’s a good book and States are almost separate countries sometimes, or so I’m told. And I’ve had a week of night shifts and woe-is-me-ing so I’m just going to put it in. But enough of sentences beginning with conjunctions. :-D

The House of the Scorpion charts the life of Matteo Alacràn from conception to age of fourteen. Most conceptions aren’t really first-page material for young adult books, but Matt is a clone, grown inside a cow and brought up to believe he is nothing more than livestock, a creature that ‘civilised’ people refuse to acknowledge. His DNA comes from El Patron, the original Matteo Alacrán, who masterminded the birth of the country Opium and who is effectively its ruler.

Opium produces drugs for foreign markets and ensures that no one can cross illegally from Mexico to the United States or vice-versa. People programmed to do obey slave away in the fields while the 140-year-old El Patron searches for ways to further extend his life. Matt receives the best education and hopes to one day assist in running Opium, but begins to question his status. Why should he be classed an ‘animal’, incapable of reasoning thought and the leadership of the country, when El Patron’s great grandchildren aren’t as smart.

Matt must also decide with who he wants to become. Must he follow in the footsteps of El Patron the drug lord, or can he choose his own path? I thought Matt was very well drawn – you watch him through his life as he makes good and bad choices, and always El Patron is in the background, demonstrating what Matt might become if he makes all the wrong choices. Or the right ones, if your goal is to be an international drug lord.

Oh and by the way don’t get the Amazon e-book until after I’ve complained to Amazon. My copy is missing dozens of apostrophes, has replaced half the double ls with capital Us and had two chapter 8s (the entire chapter, printed out again). Made reading interesting...

Any other books to represent Arizona?

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