The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is quite possibly my favorite science fiction type book of all time. I'm not sure I'd really classify it as sci-fi or young adult, although it is shelved that way. The characters are young people but the themes are universal. Setting is futuristic, post-apocalyptic maybe, or at least post modern.
The book deals with cloning humans, something I've also written about with admittedly less grace. Although the topic makes this book science fiction, it read more like urban fantasy. The characters live in what is present-day Mexico, which has become a kind of opium kingdom. The main character in the book is the clone of a powerful opium lord. He is sheltered until the outside world invades his content, secluded little bubble. As he begins to venture into the world, secrets about his identity become apparent--as well as about his intended purpose.
This book was a chilling, suspenseful, gripping read, without giving in to gimmicky tactics or losing its literary brilliance. I can't think of many other books or authors that deal with important subjects in such an effective way. It is well written (which counts for a lot to my critical eye), it has great plotting and believable, loveable characters who you can't help but root for every second. It has action, and wonderfully done suspense that keeps building throughout the book and never lets you go, but never goes over the top. Descriptions are vivid but never dull, always advancing the plot at a steady pace. The pacing of the entire book is wonderful. I rarely read a book that manages to be gripping and literary at the same time, but Nancy Farmer succeeds with this one. It is one of my favorite books of all time. I highly recommend the audio version if you like audiobooks--the reader does a great job.
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