The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Matt was living a very peaceful and normal – albeit secluded – life with his surrogate mother Celia until he was taken to live in the Big House, where he is shunned and abhorred by all the residents. He is hated because he is a clone, a disgusting creature who is not supposed to be able to even talk, let alone be a talented pianist. The only person who loves him is El Patron, the powerful drug-lord, ruler of Opium – previously Mexico but now a drug-producing country – and the person from whom Matt was cloned. El Patron loves Matt because Matt is him. But the House holds many dangerous mysteries, mysteries that mean life or death, especially for Matt…

I can see why this book is a Newbery Honor book: it’s mysterious, captivating, and has a new and challenging theme.  The plot moves at a rapidly exciting pace while still hiding the one true secret until one of the main climaxes. And even after the secret is revealed, there is still the problem of resolving the problem that the secret has. It is truly a well-written plot.

Also, it is not like The Red Pyramid or The Hunger Games (which are both good books, but more concentrated on ‘fun’ than enlightening the reader with anything). The House of the Scorpion actually has emotion in it, and not the force-down-your-throat emotion either. I never cry while reading books (in fact, I never cry while enjoying any type of media) but while reading this book, I felt tears coming to my eyes. The bluntness with which the author describes the hardships that Matt goes through makes his problems seem worse.

All in all, this book is worthy of the Newbery Honor, and I believe it could have won the Newbery Award if it hadn’t been put up against Crispin: The Cross of Lead. I give this book 9.5 stars and hope to read more of the author’s works.

K

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