The House of the Scorpian by Nancy Farmer

25 Sep


Farmer, Nancy. The House of the Scorpian. Athenium Books for Young Readers, 2002. 380 pages. ISBN 978-0-689-85222-0

Plot Summary:

In the future where clones are harvested for their organs, Matteo (Matt) Alacran is such a clone of the drug-lord Matteo Alacran, known as El Patron. He was raised in an isolated cabin far out in the opium fields by a chef, Celia, from the Alacran estate. One day when Matt, six years old now, is home alone he hears children outside, he has never seen other children before. Matt knows he is not supposed to show himself, but curiosity gets the better of him and he goes to the window. Unfortunately the kids see him and try to talk to him. This leads to them coming back the next day and doing the same. Matt ends up breaking the window and jumping out so that he can join them, but he ends up cutting his legs, hands, and feet quite badly on the glass. The kids rush him to the estate to get him a doctor, but when the adults discover who he is they throw him outside and later locked in a cell and treated like an animal for three months after that. When El Patron discovers the condition of his clone and is furious. Afterword, Matt is living like royalty, but still seen as an animal by others. The good life does not last long for Matt and soon his dreams are destroyed and his life is threatened.

Critical Evaluation:

This is a cepitvating novel that is sure to grab the attention of teen readers. Matt is a complex character with a personality that will you will have a hard time not liking. He starts out a bit naive, but compassionate, and turns into a strong-willed, intelligent boy. All of the other characters lend in creating a colorful cast for this novel. Farmer does a magnificent job of laying out the setting and creating a desolate feel to the story that you can only hope will get better. This book brings up a great topic of discussion on cloning and cloning rights. Matt is treated like an animal by everybody because he is a clone. Clones are only grown so that who ever they are the clone for can use them to harvest their organs or other body parts. Is it really okay to bring a being into the world for the full use of havesting them? Do clones deserve the same rights as non-clones, or since they are a science specimen do they not get those rights? This is a tough one, and I think Farmer does a great job of voicing her own opinion on the matter. She also brings up the topic of harvesting opium that could generate a great discussion as well. A great read that comes highly recommended.

Reader’s Annotation:

What would you do if you were cloned for the sole purpose that your organs could be harvested? Matt Alacran is having just that issue, but he doesn’t know it yet.


Nancy Farmer was born in 1941 in Phoenix, Arizona. She went to college at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and got her BA in 1963. She joined the Peace Corps and was sent to India (196301965). Upon returning she went to Berkeley and sold newspapers on the street for a while. She got a job in the Entomology department at UC Berekely and took courses in Chemistry. She then decided to visit Africa. Her and a friend hitchhiked by boat, but the boat they rented ended up being stolen and they were boarded by the Coast Guard just outside of the Golden Gate Bridge. She was forced to buy plane tickets. She spent more than a year living alone on Lake Carbora Bassa in Mozambique, monitoring water weeds. She then helped control the tsetse flies in the dense brush on the banks of the Zambezi in Zimbabwe. She met her future husband in the capital, Harare, there. They married a few weeks later (1976), and now live in Menlo Park, California. They have one son, Daniel, who is in the US Navy.

Nancy has an honors from the National Book Award for The House of the Scorpion and a Newbery Honor for The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, A Girl Named Disaster and The House of the Scorpion. She wrote eight other novels, three picture books, and several short stories. Her books have been translated into 26 different languages.  From


Science Fiction/futuristic/dystopian

Curriculum Ties:


Booktalking Ideas:

What would you do with your clone?

Reading Level/Interest Level:

11 years and up/YA

Challenge Issues:


Why I include this book:

Somebody highly recommended it to me and after reading it thought it would be a great addition to my collection. Didn’t realize the reading level was so low until I looked it up, but the content level I believe is much higher.

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Posted by on September 25, 2011 in LIBR 265-10 Database Project/Blog


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