Thursday, April 30, 2009

The House of The Scorpion


Farmer, Nancy. 2002. The House of the Scorpion. Simon & Schuster.

In the beginning there were thirty-six of them, thirty-six droplets of life so tiny that Eduardo could see them only under a microscope. He studied them anxiously in the darkened room.

If you haven't read The House of the Scorpion, you really don't know what you're missing. It's as wonderfully complex and beautiful and thrilling as Frankenstein. (Which, if you remember nothing else about me, remember my love for Mary Shelley's monster.) The House of the Scorpion is science fiction. Set several centuries in the future, it revolves around the Alacran family, rulers of the empire of Opium which borders the United States and Mexico. Well, what used to be called Mexico. Our hero, Matteo Alacran, has an unusual upbringing. His first five or six years are almost spent in complete isolation. His only interactions being with his caregiver--not his mother, who was sacrificed--a woman, a servant, named Celia. But one day, in his cabin, he hears voices. He sees two children. A boy and a girl. And despite Celia's warnings, his curiosity gets the better of him. And he springs through the window--the doors and windows being locked--freeing himself, yes, but bloodying himself up in the process. What this teaches him--among other things--is that he is different. Not just a little different, but DIFFERENT. His very existence seems to repulse people. Why? What did he ever do to them? Thus Matt's struggles begin.

The book traces his childhood from birth through age fourteen or so. As I said, it's a unique one. The household being darkly twisted and as dysfunctional as can be. The few friends Matt make cannot ever overcome his great disadvantages. Though small threads of hope remain. Matt's future remains uncertain. And his present is full of dangers as well. Life is not easy, but it's all he knows. His very life depends on the conclusions he will come to draw, the observations he continues to make.

The House of the Scorpion is a thrilling science fiction novel that is intelligent and intense.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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7 comments:

sally apokedak 11:21 AM  

OK I've had this one on my shelf for several years but never opened it. I guess it's time to dust that baby off and give it a look.

Thanks for the nudge.

Shelley 2:58 PM  

Love, love, love this book! I just loaned it to a friend, and I can't wait to hear how she likes it.

Debi 6:06 AM  

Annie absolutely loves this book, and has been trying to get me to read it for quite a while now. Not that I haven't wanted to, just the "too many books" things. Perhaps I need to add it to a challenge list. ;)

Lara's Laugh Lines,  1:41 PM  

~*A fabulous read!*~
I picked this novel up one day at the library for my 13 year-old son & the entire time he was reading he would keep repeating,"This book is so good Mom! YOU HAVE TO READ IT!!"
Many of the books he chooses can be rather tedious for me to read, but I do it for our relationship. NOT SO WITH THIS NOVEL!DEFINITELY NOT TEDIOUS!
Ladies, pick this one for your women's book club & you will be a hero.

Julie 5:46 PM  

I also read this book because my 13yo son had it. I thought it was fantastic. I love the way the author presents very complex issues but lets you draw your own conclusions. She never preaches. Nancy Farmer is my son's favorite author, and he is very picky.

Zibilee 12:19 PM  

This is another one of the books my teenage son and daughter have read and loved. I know we still have a copy in the house, so I will plan on reading this one. You make this book sound really intriguing.

The Glass 1/2 Full 2:08 PM  

My book club read this book when we were in high school and we absolutely adored it. We couldn't wait to talk about it. We all thought that the ending was rushed and that the author could have provided the main character as well as supporting characters with a different fate. But not every fantasy book can be a fantasy!

Well, would you call this a fantasy? Maybe borderline science fiction, but it's a page turner that I absolutely love.

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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
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  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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