Rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this novel.  This is one of those rare few young-adult novels that adults will be able to read, appreciate, and enjoy as much as its "intended audience".  Like Heinlein's "juveniles", just because The House of the Scorpion's main character is a juvenile doesn't mean the writing, plot, and characterization have to be second-rate.

This book paints a very interesting picture of a quasi-future where Mexico and the US have made "The Devil's Pact"; they have turned over a tract of land between the two nations to a group of drug-lords known as the "Farmers" who grow and harvest poppies for opium in return for curbing all illegal immigration between the two surrounding countries.  In the 100 years of their existence, the Farmers have created a civilization of their own, rich and isolated and abusive of its workers, most of whom have computer chips implanted in their brains that turn them into "eejits", or zombie-like workers who won't even take a drink of water without being told to do so.

The main character is a young boy who is a clone, but a very special one: he is the clone and heir-apparent of El Patron, the despotic dictator of the country of Opium.  And as he grows and begins to learn about what makes him different from all the servants and other clones in this repressed land, the household cook Celia (his adoptive mother) and El Patron's most trusted and faithful bodyguard, Tam Lin, help him discover some shocking truths about himself and the world into which he has been delivered.
 
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