November 3, 2013

The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer

Leading off where House of the Scorpion ends, The Lord of Opium finds Matteo (Matt) as the new El Patrón at age fourteen. Matteo is not comfortable with his new position of power, and is left with a skeletal crew to run Opium; most died when they were poisoned at senior el Patrón's funeral. Matt must now position himself as a strong leader to be feared, while at the same time wants to stop growing and distributing opium, and find a way to free the eternal prison of the micro-chipped eejits. He learns that his wealth and power is beyond imagination, and that the secret of Opium is that Opium is a wildlife and plant sanctuary for a dying world. Matteo's internal struggle is dealing with the voice of el Patron, from whom he is cloned, and the conflict that some may have to die to save others.

It has been several years since I read House of the Scorpion, but I had no difficulty falling into the flow of the story. The relationships that Matteo builds with old and new characters, the humanity that Matt brings to a heartless world, and how each character is an integral part of the climactic conclusion is evidence of an author who truly knows how to weave character, plot, and setting into a compelling story. There is much symbolism here and a lot to contemplate and discuss.
Reed Reads Score: 4.5

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