I read this book last year, on a trip to Italy, and found it to be so good and absorbing that I even read it on a train when I could have been ogling gorgeous Italian countryside. I'd read another book by Nancy Farmer a few years before that, The Eye, the Ear and the Arm, and I'd loved it. I don't know why I put off reading this one for so long, but I'm glad I did, because it made my vacation that much better.
The book is set in Opium, a country of land between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matteo Alacrán is the most powerful of the drug lords who rule Opium, and the book's protagonist, Matt, is his clone. As Matt grows up, he becomes more and more aware of the corruption surrounding him - and as the story builds, it spirals off into a series of intricate and unexpected plot turns. The book boasts a large cast of memorable characters, from Matteo Alacrán himself to Celia, Matt's caregiver, from Tam Lin, Matt's bodyguard, to María and the wide pantheon of Matteo Alacrán's friends and relations. The House of the Scorpion is a rich, dark and engaging novel. It'll keep you awake at night, but I can guarantee you won't want to stop reading. From the first chapter - Matt's birth in a cow - to the brutal and shocking end, it's a terrific read 100% worth your time. It'll leave you thinking too, and it won't be easy to put down even after the last page.
But you won't have to! The sequel is coming out sometime this year.
Yet another reason to be glad the Mayan apocalypse never happened.