The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer | Book Review

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Publication Date: 2004


(from GoodReads)

Matteo Alacran was not born; he was harvested with the DNA from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium. Can a boy who was bred to guarantee another’s survival find his own purpose in life? And can he ever be free?

-Minor spoilers! Read at your own risk!-

I was so close to deciding not to finish this book. I did in the end, so I guess that’s all that matters, but I have to say that I honestly didn’t like The House of the Scorpion as much as everyone else did. I had read so many great reviews on the book but throughout reading it I was constantly thinking, “Did we read the same book?” I feel like we didn’t.

I will admit that the book had a lot of potential, I guess I can see why so many people liked it and why it won so many awards. The whole thing with the clones and eejits and humanity and all the themes of the book. But I just don’t think the book was for me.

Plot: Not much really happens during the book. It’s mostly just Matt’s life and struggles day by day. Yes people treated him like he was dirt (which totally made me mad) but honestly besides other people’s hostility towards him nothing else really happened. When things finally started getting semi-interesting (in about the last 20 pages of the book) I honestly couldn’t care less and just wanted the book to be over.

Characters: There are literally so many characters in the book and I barely liked any of them. The entire book is told in the main character, Matt’s, point of view. The thing is I didn’t like Matt. Characters are personally a big deal breaker and me disliking Matt ruined a lot of the book for me. I know he’s just a kid, but for someone who thinks he’s so “smart”, he really isn’t, he still has so much to learn. Maybe that’s what Nancy Farmer wanted to show though, his naïvety.

The rest of the characters (like the entire Alacran family) were total jerks. I didn’t like Maria, she was a bit annoying and I didn’t like how she forgave Matt so easily when a few pages ago she was super mad at him. Celia and Tam Lin were decent characters, I liked them well enough and I wish they had more scenes. Tam Lin had so many good quotes! I think he’s a really wise person even though he himself doesn’t think so.

“I always say the truth is best even when we find it unpleasant. Any rat in a sewer can lie. It’s how rats are. It’s what makes them rats. But a human doesn’t run and hide in dark places, because he’s something more. Lying is the most personal act of cowardice there is.”

“Rabbits give up when they’re caught by coyotes, they consent to die because they’re animals and can’t understand hope. But humans are different. They fight against death no matter how bad things seem, and sometimes, even when everything’s against them, they win.”

Setting: I did love the setting, I haven’t read any books set in Mexico before and I also know next to nothing about the Mexican culture. So reading about that was super fun! The author seemed like she a knew a lot of information. Another thing I loved about the setting was how real it felt. The story of this book could be our future since cloning is already a thing right now. My only problem with the setting was that we don’t really learn much about the world outside of the opium farm.

Overall, I didn’t really enjoy this book as much as I was hoping to, the ending felt rushed and way too easy, the characters annoyed me, the world building was minimal outside of the opium farm and finally the book revolved around Matt, a character I didn’t like. If I’m being completely honest, I was bored out of my mind half the time.

2 out of 5 stars


Buy The House of the Scorpion

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I’d love to know your thoughts on this book! Do you agree or disagree with me? I’d love to hear your arguments, maybe you can persuade me to give the sequel a try? Right now I’m not planning on ever reading it. But I’d love to know your thoughts, I know there’s a lot of people out there who really loved this book.

This book was my January 2015 TBR Jar pick! If you read my April Update you’ll know I’ve already picked the next book from my TBR Jar to read for May! If you haven’t then my next pick will be…

*insert dramatic drumroll*

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith! I have no clue what this book is about, but it seems like a cutesy contemporary romantic read so I’m excited to see what this book is all about!

Let’s be friends!



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