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Lord of Opium (House of the Scorpion) [Kindle Edition]

Nancy Farmer
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Matt has always been nothing but a clone - an exact replica, grown from a strip of old El Patron's skin. Now, age fourteen, Matt suddenly finds himself thrust into the position of ruling over his own country, Opium, on the one-time border between the US and Mexico, stretching from the ruins of San Diego to the ruins of Matamoros. But while Opium thrives, the rest of the world has been devastated by ecological disaster… and hidden somewhere in Opium is the cure.
And that isn't all that's hidden within the depths of Opium. Matt is haunted by the ubiquitous army of eejits, zombie-like workers harnessed to the old El Patron's sinister system of drug growing... people stripped of the very qualities which once made them human.
Matt wants to use his newfound power to help stop the suffering, but he can't even find a way to smuggle his childhood love Maria across the border and into Opium. Instead, his every move hits a roadblock - both from the traitors that surround him and from a voice within himself. For who is Matt really but the clone of an evil, murderous dictator?

Product Description

About the Author

Nancy Farmer has written three Newbery Honor Books: A Girl Named Disaster, The Ear, The Eye and the Arm, The House of the Scorpion, which also won the National Book Award and received a Printz Honor. She grew up on the border between Arizona and Mexico in the landscape that she evokes so strongly in her disturbing futuristic adventure The House of the Scorpion. Nancy Farmer lives with her family in Menlo Park, California.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 957 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's UK (26 Sept. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B3VE14Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #301,202 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The problems of power 24 Feb. 2014
A lot of sci-fi/fantasy books stop when the the heroes win over the baddies and often gain some kind of power. But Nancy Farmer's "The Lord of Opium," the sequel to "House of the Scorpion," studies what happens AFTER that -- a tightly-written sci-fi thriller who studies what happens when a teen clone must cling to his humanity as he struggles with power.

With the death of El Patrón, his teenage clone Matt Alacrán is considered the new "him" (since they share DNA). So Matt is the new Lord of Opium, meaning he is running his own country full of opium poppies and a eejit populace. The microchips in their brains makes the eejits like programmable zombies, and Matt wants to free them and return them to their humanity... but isn't sure how.

And there are other problems -- challenges to his station, trying to get his love Maria back into Opium, and the power vacuum left by the deaths of the other drug lords. What's more, the UN wants to use Opium -- the only unharmed part of the world -- to heal everywhere else. Now Matt must find a way to balance his goals with the pressures outside Opium... while staying alive, and maintaining who he truly is.

Legally speaking, Matt is the same person as his hated "father," so a lot of "The Lord of Opium" is about his struggle to be a far better person than El Patrón. It's tough to address that kind of inner conflict, especially when there is actual doubt from the person about how different he can be from the original. It's not a good sign when you regularly "hear" the voice of your monstrous predecessor.

What sets Matt apart?
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3.0 out of 5 stars Too Great Expectations? 23 Nov. 2013
By envoy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having enjoyed greatly 'House of the Scorpion' I was looking forward to reading 'The Lord of Opium' upon its release. The book is what I would expect from Nancy Farmer- well written, good characterisation- but it did not live up to my expectations.

There are two aspects of the book that hindered my enjoyment of it 1. the answer given to a question that may be hanging over for many readers from their reading of 'House of the Scorpion' and 2. a lack of the tension that would made me anxious for Matt and his friends.

Regarding point 1 this is never a question I asked myself! That I did not ponder the matter does not mean that I lack curiousity; it is simple the case that when I read novels set in different/ future realities I accept certain features of their realities just as I accept that when I walk out of the door later today I will not float into the sky! That said, it is a fairly obvious question to address in a sequel. I was not convinced by the answer and as reaching this answer propels most of the novel it is not surprising that my enjoyment of the book was diminished.

The second point is something that I was aware of towards the end of 'House of the Scorpion'- once I knew Matt would live a lot of the tension in the book dissipated, but I was still curious as to what would happen between Matt and El Patron and I was satisfied by the manner in which the book ended. The Lord of Opium does not quite match the promise of that ending. As I write this review I begin to suspect that the issue may be that too much of the world these books describe was revealed at once and this overwhelmed me/ distracted me from the narrative.

It may well be that my expectations were set too high by the first book in the sequence, but too many elements of the book failed to convince for it to warrant more than 3*.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  124 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Sequel! 17 Sept. 2013
By Eric Stout - Published on
It's been awhile since I read House of the Scorpions, but it all came back to me right away when I delved into The Lord of Opium. Nancy Farmer continues the story of Matt, the clone of the nearly 150-year-old drug lord, El Patròn. When El Patròn dies, Matt becomes the new lord of Opium. He struggles to undo the regime and rescue the enslaved eejits but he's only 14 and embattled on all sides by a rival drug lord, UN forces led by a fanatic and general anti-clone prejudice. Even Matt's own right-hand man, Cienfuegos, may not be all that he appears to be. There are also a lot of interesting twists about clones, as he appears haunted by the old drug lord's ghostly presence in his mind.

Farmer's characters are distinct and life-like. In spite of his heroism Matt is a believable teenager, not a junior super-hero, and he has a teenager's problems. He loves a girl who is far away but he's also confused by his feelings for the beautiful eejit servant girl, who will do whatever he commands. He has trouble, too, in staying friends with the boys from the orphanage now that he's rich and powerful.

Matt's world comes to life in every detail--you can practically smell the desert air and hear the hum of the flying machines. But there is nothing stereotypical about this dystopia. Although Opium is a social disaster, it is also an ecological paradise and offers hope to the rest of the planet. In a way, the same is true of Matt. At first he is a despised clone, manufactured rather than born, but with the help of his allies, he becomes a true leader. The novel is poignant, startling and inspiring. I loved it.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sophisticated ethical questions drive the plot 13 Nov. 2013
By Unity Dienes - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a wonderful book, but I can understand why some readers feel it falls short of The House of Scorpion. In the first book, Matt's very survival is at stake, and the plot is driven by his discovery of who he is, and there are substantial mysteries that are not revealed until the end of the book. This second book is fundamentally different. Matt is not in particular danger throughout most of this book, and while he does make discoveries about his world, there's no moment of shock when the precariousness of his existence is revealed. Instead, this book revolves around his efforts to fix his native land, a project that turns out to be a lot more complicated than he thought it would be when he first set out to do so. The themes are more political and ethical , and less survival-based, than those in the first novel. For the original fans of the first novel, who are now adults, the increased sophistication and complication of Matt's world will likely parallel the changes that have gone through their lives as they have transitioned from adolescence to adulthood, and it is fair to say that this book continues the "coming of age" theme. However, for the readers who loved the first for its nail-biting story of a harrowing adventure of an underdog, this book will disappoint. For readers who fell in love with the world of Opium and compulsively want to see how Matt manages to (or fails to) fix some of its problems, the book will be every bit as interesting (if not quite as exciting) as the first.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice, but a notch below Scorpion 17 Sept. 2013
By KVB99 - Published on
The House of Scorpion (THOS) was a fabulous, break through book, and so it was like opening a bottle of fine wine when I sat down to read this book. The book picks up pretty much where THOS left off--Matt, the new El Patron. Most of the story is consumed with Matt trying to live up to the new responsibilities thrust on him and undo the evil that the old El Patron did. In particular, Matt is determined to cure the eejits and find a way to be with Maria. On the plus side, the writing is excellent and the characters are generally terrific and the overall plot is engaging. Also, some new characters are introduced that are very engaging--eg, Cienfuegos. And, there are some very poignant story arcs. Fans of THOS will want to read this book and they will enjoy it.'s not as compelling as THOS. Some of the magic of THOS is still present, but much of it is gone, IMO. That was probably unavoidable...Matt is now lord, not lowly clone, and so we don't have that same dystopian atmosphere as THOS, where Matt struggles to find out if he's human or not in a world where most everyone despises him. Also, one of the most compelling characters in THOS for me was Maria. Sadly, until the last few pages of the book, she mostly just puts in a few cameo appearances in this book. What a waste of a great character. I will say that the ending is nicely done and, like THOS, the curtain comes down on a nice note of hope.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Disappointed - The Magic of Book One is Gone 29 Oct. 2013
By azabinsky - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As The House of the Scorpion is one of my favorites that I recommend to everyone, I was thrilled to hear that a sequel was coming out and pre-ordered it. After House of the Scorpion, I went out and read every Nancy Farmer book I could get my hands on. Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed by The Lord of Opium and after about 5 or 8 chapters am sad to say I won't be reading any more. The narrative is tedious and contrived. (i.e. Matt sends an eejit off to be retrained and when he realizes what that means (at some interminable time in the future), he immediately runs off to save the girl. When he gets to the facility he hears screams and the very eejit he is looking for just happens to be the one he first stumbles upon, being tortured at that very moment). The suspense and mystery of a good plot are just absent. The utter magic of book one is simply nowhere to be found in this sequel. All of the characters are flat, including Matt. And don't even get me started on the inclusion of the bizarre supernatural element where El Patron seems to be inhabiting Matt's thoughts. I don't know what happened or where the editor was when the drafts were being finalized, but this publication is an example of the ball being dropped big time. Granted, I am speaking having not finished the book. This, in of itself, says something, as I almost always push through to the end (especially for an author I otherwise adore).
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This sequel focuses more on internal struggles with issues of morality, humanity and the struggle between good and evil. 15 Jan. 2014
By Two kids mom - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First of all, the age range (grades 7-10) listed in the Booklist review is ridiculous. A bright 10 year old to a 101 year old will enjoy this book. Although it is touted as YA, the topics explored are of interest to adults and there are NO vampires (but one could argue there are sort of zombies) in this book, which in the YA genre is an automatic plus.

My daughter read House of the Scorpion at age 11, and adored it so I was happy to get this sequel. She is now fourteen and devoured the Lord of Opium. I read it as well and we have difference of opinion as to which book was better, she leans toward the sequel while I liked House of the Scorpion better. I think this may be due to the fact that I really enjoy the world building that occurred in the first book, while she prefers the struggles Matt faces (moral, emotional and practical) in Lord of Opium. I have to agree with her that the Lord of Opium is more actually more complex because the delineation between who is “right” and “wrong” is less clear. Regardless, both books are dystopian literature, dark and thought provoking.

The book sparked many interesting discussions on:
What characteristics make us human?
Are internal or external struggles more difficult?
What is the basis of morality?
Is it acceptable to do evil, if your ultimate outcome is to create good?

Both books are excellent, I suggest you read them in order, but it is possible to read the Lord of Opium without having read the House of the Scorpion. Even though the main protagonist remains the same, these are actually fairly different books, the first is about external struggle and the second is more about internal struggle. This may mean that readers have a strong preference for one or the other.
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