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Lord of Opium (House of the Scorpion) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 432 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
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?Read more ›
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*.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
This book picks right up where "House of Scorpion" left off, which makes it the most satisfying kind of sequel, especially for young readers who always want to know what happened next.
What happens next is, like the first book, a great concept: with the death of the original Matteo Alacran, the 140-year-old drug lord called El Patron, his clone, who shares his DNA but cannot "share" his identity and so is legally an unperson -- now he becomes, legally, the man whose DNA he has. And Matt becomes El Patron.
Which mean that now, Matt must try to survive El Patron's world. And since he is not very much like El Patron (at least not in ways he recognizes. Not at first.), he must try to find a way through the tangled webs that El Patron wove, in order to reshape the world of Opium so that it is more to his liking.
It's a little hard to read, emotionally; El Patron's world is particularly savage and heartless, and Matt has to live with it before he can change it -- and so of course, it begins to change him. This is a bit frustrating and disheartening for the reader. But Matt does handle it as well as he can, and fortunately, he has some help. He is not the villain, which I was glad for; I was worried at one point that he would actually become El Patron completely, but he does not. I won't spoil what does happen, I'll just leave it at that: it is not a cheerful book, as it is not a cheerful world, but Matt is not the villain.
A good book, again. I hadn't read the first book in five years or more, and so I had forgotten quite a lot of it; I would say that this book could stand alone, as there are enough flashbacks and explanations to allow a reader to grasp the larger story arc and the complicated setting, but you definitely lose some things just reading this book. Together with House of Scorpion, this is five stars, all the way.