The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
Young Matt has spent his life living quietly on the edge of the Opium fields. Watching the world through his windows, he has little understanding of what lies beyond the safe walls of his house with Ceila, his devoted caretaker. But everything changes when he’s discovered by the children of Alacrán family, heirs of El Patrón, the lord of the Opium empire. Uprooted from the fields, Matt and Celia are brought to live in the Big House. There, Matt discovers he is the clone of El Patrón, born from science. To everyone else in the Alcrán line, the boy is a monster. So as Matt struggles to understand the world and his place in it, he must also navigate El Patrón’s ruthless family and their fight for power. Underlying it all is a secret Matt may not survive.
If you like subtle science fiction, this book is gold. Farmer seamlessly blends sci-fi with realism and current culture. It’s fast paced without feeling rushed thanks to her quick and casual style. I admit, I had to peek at the family tree at the beginning of the book a few times because there are so many characters, but I loved them. Despite his unique circumstances, Matt was easy to sympathize with and developed nicely. I especially enjoyed the development of his vicious rival, Tom. Through it all, readers are challenged by the ultimate question: What separates monsters from men, and men from the animals? I recommend this book for YA sci-fi lovers.