Let me take a moment to make fangirl noises...EEEEEE!!!!!!!!!
Okay, so I picked this bad boy up at the ALA conference and have been in inner turmoil about waiting as long as possible before the release date to read and review it.
It has been torment. I suffer to ensure to tell you about something that I believed was going to be awesome to make sure that you would only have to wait until September 3, 2013 to read it.
I have two disclaimers.
Disclaimer one: I read the advanced reader's copy of this book so there will be minor differences between the one I read and the published copy.
Disclaimer two: I read The House of the Scorpion back in 2004 when it first came out, I probably read it five times in the course of a week (because it is that viciously good), and if you haven't read it, GO GET IT. To fully comprehend what I'm talking about, the amazon link is HERE. The first book won tons of awards (well-deserved wins). To get the ARC of The Lord of Opium, I basically cried at a lady at the conference who was running the booth. Dear random lady, I will always hold a place in my heart of the kindness you lent to my book obsession.
An amazon summary to get MORE EXCITED, "As the teenage ruler of his own country, Matt must cope with clones and cartels in this riveting sequel to the modern classic House of the Scorpion, winner of the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, and a Printz Honor.
Matt has always been nothing but a clone—grown from a strip of old El Patron’s skin. Now, at age fourteen, he finds himself suddenly thrust into the position of ruling over his own country. The Land of Opium is the largest territory of the Dope Confederacy, which ranges on the map like an intestine 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 in Opium is the cure.
And that isn’t all that awaits within the depths of Opium. Matt is haunted by the ubiquitous army of eejits, zombielike workers harnessed to the old El Patron’s sinister system of drug growing—people stripped of the very qualities that once made them human.
Matt wants to use his newfound power to help, to 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, some from the enemies that surround him…and some from a voice within himself. For who is Matt really, but the clone of an evil, murderous dictator?" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE
I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH.
I KEEP HUGGING IT. I KIND OF HOPE OSMOSIS WILL JUST HAPPEN AND IT WILL BE A PART OF ME, FOREVER.
As it's been...nine years (holy crap I feel old now in the well deserved fashion) since I read the first book, I'm not entirely sure if this picked up where the last one left off.
I do know that the first one was written so well that I didn't have to use any sort of cheats (like wiki or amazon) to refresh my memory on who each character was as they hurtled (because I read fast) through the book. Many of the details from The House of the Scorpion stick out so vividly in my mind that it was SO COOL to get back into the world for more story!
Fan girl. I know. BUT THAT'S OKAY BECAUSE I LOVE IT.
My brain is seizing a little bit because it's trying to deliberate what I can say about either book that won't spoil and ruin everything.
How about...I'm really curious and hopeful that there will be a third book since the world at large is so fascinating.
OKAY OKAY, I GOT THIS.
This review will undoubtedly contain spoilers for The House of the Scorpion, if you would like to read that unspoiled, I recommend not reading this review of The Lord of Opium any further. They're both fantastic books, you can come back when you're done with The House of the Scorpion, don't worry; this review will be here. I will warn that the series is not light-hearted antics by any means, it contains a lot of cut throat views on the book's world and has a lot of dark moments and tones to the story. It has science fiction in it (like WHOA) but it's done in a way that's easy to grasp, either by the explanations provided about it or by the characters learning about it. It does pose a brilliant question of nature vs nurture while painting a vivid picture of corruption. It's kind of breathtaking in the eye opening sense. I went like O_O for a while I was reading. It's pretty intense, and can be saddening at times.
Again, I don't know if it picked up exactly where The House of the Scorpion left off, but from what I recall it seems to have.
So the original Lord of Opium has died, Matt (his clone) was given his human rights when his original died so he inherited everything that the Lord of Opium owned. For the sake of my brain, I'm going to refer to as dead Lord of Opium as El Patron and Matt as Matt. The book plays with the semantics of that (something you can look forward to hehe).
Matt returns to Opium (the stretch of land that exists between future USA and future Mexico which are now different things...just read the books dang it) and begins to explore everything that El Patron left behind. El Patron was wickedly paranoid and smart so he genetically imprinted a lot of the controls of Opium so no one besides him (or his clones because they're his genetic copies) can open certain areas or work certain systems. Matt has his work cut out for him.
Especially because he wants to dismantle the drug empire that El Patron built.
A lot of characters have come back with attitude and as Matt explores the land of Opium, he discovers a lot about El Patron, his past, and what he wants to be in the future.
IT WAS REALLY AMAZING.
I'M GOING TO STOP TALKING BEFORE I REVEAL TOO MUCH.
There was an interesting element that played into the book which I'm going to discuss briefly.
SPOILERS. ALL THE SPOILERS.
There is a 'voice' in Matt's head that he believes to be El Patron that chimes in from time to time, especially in more hazardous situations to Matt.
I REALLY WANT to know what that was all about. I want to know if it was hallucinations, some kind of AI that was a copy of El Patron's brain that was implanted into Matt, or just what the heck was that. I would love some sort of explanation.
Seriously, a third book is strongly encouraged.
Dear Nancy Farmer, PLEASE WRITE MORE.
...no seriously, can that just happen? Yes? :)
I'm going to go read some of my favorite bits from the book (although it was ALL good) now.