The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer
|The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Long-awaited follow up to House of the Scorpion explores many interesting issues without sacrificing an interesting plot, but it does lose tension with so much going on.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: September 2013|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster|
|External links: Author's website|
At last! A long-awaited sequel to Nancy Farmer's acclaimed House of the Scorpion, in which she explored the life of a little boy who was created solely to provide organs for the failing body of a drug lord. Matt's story was exciting and heartbreaking - would you want to find out you were a clone? It was also incredibly thought-provoking, exploring ideas of prejudice, power, courage, love and sacrifice. And it all took place in a dystopian future in which the drug trade was all but legitimised and in which people are enslaved by microchips in the brain.
We take up Matt's story again after El Patron has died. In legal terms, Matt is now regarded as El Patron. The clone has taken the place of the original. And with the rights over the identity, rights over the criminal organisation also come to Matt. He is now the boss of a vast empire. He's the Lord of Opium. And he wants to put things right. He wants to free the eejits. He wants to grow crops, not drugs. And he wants to help his friends.
But Opium is on lockdown. Other drug lords are looking to take advantage of Opium's perceived weakness. United Nations troops are waiting for an excuse to enter the country. And there's a voice in Matt's head, a voice that loves violence and cruelty and mayhem. El Patron may be dead, but can Matt, his clone, ever truly escape him?
There's a lot to like about The Lord of Opium. It's rich and complicated and the picture of the world in which Matt is moving rises vividly from the pages. All sorts of issues are explored: genetic manipulation, prejudice, the intricacies of geopolitics, the drug trade. Matt has to decide how much the end ever justifies the means. As he tries to improve things, he encounters a series of Catch 22s and readers will see how rarely right and wrong are ever clear cut.
However, it's a lot. And it makes for a book that is rather too long for its underlying plot. The narrative sprawls and meanders and The Lord of Opium loses tension because of it. This isn't a book you can't bear to put down. I hate to say it, because I loved House of the Scorpion so much, but I was a little bit disappointed in this sequel. Sorry.
Another interesting series looking at whether genetic and microchip manipulation of humans is about Jimmy Coates and by Joe Craig. It also creates a violent world and asks whether nature or free will win through.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer at Amazon.com.
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