The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
I was looking for a ‘guy’ book to read and found a book for everyone. A future gone very wrong, suspense, greed, the corruption of absolute power, questions about science (genetics) and its limits, deep, multi-dimensional characters. No wonder it’s won so many awards.
The House of the Scorpion opens with a scientist using 100-year-old cells to create clones for the now nearly 140 year old El Patron. El Patron is the all-powerful dictator of the country Opium, which lies between the United States and Atzlan (the former Mexico). As the name suggests the country of Opium was created by El Patron, the drug lord, to dispense opium-based drug products to Europe and the Far East. He was able to do this by making a deal with both Atzlan and the U.S. No drugs will be sold in the Americas and any person trying to cross the border of one country to get to another will not be allowed to pass. (At this point in the future as many people are crossing from the U.S. into Atzlan (formerly Mexico) as are going the other way. A simple way out of the illegal immigration problem. But what happens to those people who try to cross is one of the many horrors of the story.
It takes the main character, Matt, awhile to realize that he is a clone of El Patron. (His foot is marked ‘Property of . . .’.) Although he is favored by El Patron, the rest of the extended family living on the estate hate Matt and consider him subhuman. They alternate between tormenting him and treating him like a pet. Fortunately, Matt has two allies on the estate—Celia, who has raised him, and Tam Lin, Patron’s Scottish bodyguard. In his own age group, he has Maria, who is the daughter of a powerful senator, and who visits the estate.
Matt is both smart and naïve. He loves El Patron for giving him life and for treating him as a favorite while others shun him. But why has El Patron created a clone? And what can Matt do about it?