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A Reader of Fictions: The Vampires - Paul Simon

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Vampires - Paul Simon

The House of the Scorpion

Author: Nancy Farmer
Genre: science fiction, dystopia, young adult
Pages: 380

Brief Summary:
Matteo Alacran lives the first years of his life in a house, knowing only the woman who watches over him, Celia. One day he cannot resist peeking out the window at two older children, even though Celia told him never to be seen by anyone. He injures himself when he tries to jump out the window the next time the children come to see him, so they take him back to their huge manor house. This leads to Matt's discovery that he is not human; he is considered an animal, a beast, a clone. Everyone treats him horribly, at least until El Patron, the dictator of the country of Opium and the man who Matt is a clone of, arrives and forces everyone to at least pretend to be kind to Matt. His life improves, materially at least, until he realizes why El Patron had Matt created in the first place and how El Patron has lived for over a hundred years. Matt must escape and find a new way of life where he can escape from the horror of being a clone.

Review:
Farmer's book has won many awards, most notably the National Book Award, so you do not need me to tell you whether it is well-written or interesting. Although I had not heard it particularly listed as such, The House of the Scorpion is a dystopian novel. Matt lives in the country of Opium, formed as a barrier to immigration between the United States and Mexico. Opium, as its name implies, earns money almost solely from the export of drugs. The workers are treated even worse than slaves. A steady supply of new workers come from the people in the U.S. hoping for better conditions in Mexico and vice versa. There is no better place: there is only Opium. Mexico has become a communist country, with all of the excesses and hypocrisy that brings.

Although the story was incredibly interesting, I had trouble relating to much to the characters. They all seemed to be driven by only one personality trait, which got quite old. People have more depth than that generally. Matt and El Patron were both driven almost entirely by the desire to preserve their lives, although El Patron includes with his life his hoard. Maria wants to save all creatures who cannot save themselves. Tom only cares about screwing with people. None of the characters were particularly likable, even Maria, who could be too trusting of people despite the evidence to the contrary.

Recommended for fans of dystopia and alternative futures. Especially recommended if you liked Neal Shusterman's Unwind.

P.S. The song choice is not to reveal surprise vampires. There are no actual vampires in this novel. I chose the song because the tone and sound of it was very fitting.

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