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The House of the Scorpion


The House of the Scorpion Farmer, Nancy.  2002.  The house of the scorpion.  New York:  Atheneum Books for Young Readers.  ISBN:  0689852223.

Although The House of the Scorpion is set in an area between the United States and Mexico (p.169), it soon becomes clear that it is a futuristic setting.  Matt is a clone who slowly comes to realize the horrific purpose for his existence and must fight for his life at the same time he grapples with the question of whether or not he is truly human and the ramifications of the answer to this question. 

Farmer spends much time in this substantial novel creating Matt's elaborate world on the Alacran estate.  Readers will find themselves suspending their disbelief as the many details included in the story work together to create both the setting and the many characters Matt encounters.  These supporting characters are fully developed through the descriptions of their life on the estate and their interactions with Matt.  When Matt is forced to run for his life, he encounters another intricate world filled with rich characters.  Farmer also invents a new member of society - the "eejit."  These are humans who have had a chip implanted in their head that turns them into robotic slaves(p.81).

As the modern world currently wrestles with the issue of the ethicalness of cloning, Farmer creates an almost believable world in which the wealthy clone themselves in order to prolong life.  She does not spend much time giving details of the scientific process, but she does weave a tale of a world that has accepted clones and placed them on the bottom rungs of society.  As the reader sees Matt grow from a boy to a young man, Farmer is able to give him great depth through his thoughts and conversations with others about the meaning of his life in light of the fact that he is a clone.  Readers will cheer Matt along as he struggles to come to terms with himself and fights a battle of good versus evil.

Excerpts from The House of the Scorpion, reviews, and reader comments:

A biography of author Nancy Farmer

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Holly S.
Graduate Student at Texas Woman's University