Matt is a clone of El Patrón, a powerful drug lord of the land of Opium, which is located between the United States and Mexico. For six years, he has lived in a tiny cottage in the poppy fields with Celia, a kind and deeply religious servant woman who is charged with his care and safety. He knows little about his existence until he is discovered by a group of children playing in the fields and wonders why he isn't like them. Though Matt has been spared the fate of most clones, who have their intelligence destroyed at birth, the evil inhabitants of El Patrón's empire consider him a "beast" and an "eejit." When El Patrón dies at the age of 146, fourteen-year-old Matt escapes Opium with the help of Celia and Tam Lin, his devoted bodyguard who wants to right his own wrongs. After a near misadventure in his escape, Matt makes his way back home and begins to rid the country of its evils.I am not even entirely sure which review lead me to want to read this book, but it has been on my RADAR for a while and I finally got a chance to read it! I think part of it was that I had to inter-library loan it and I was late picking it up, so I had to read it quickly. I am glad for it, though, because it got me reading again. Before it, it had probably been two weeks since I finished a book. I don't know what is wrong with me this year. I haven't read a lot and my blogging is spotty. I think part of the reading is that there have not been a lot of amazing reads. When I read a really good book, it gets me all fired up. When I read a lot of books that are just so-so, though, I find that I have a hard time picking the next read.
I was so refreshed by this book. I am getting tired of young adult books lately because I find they all follow certain formulas. The stories might be different, but certain things stay the same. It's those books that are a bit different in many ways that I enjoy, but I haven't been finding them lately. I actually said the other day that I was going to stop reading young adult for a while entirely and go back to just adult books, but we all know that won't really happen. This book, for example, came in for me at the library and I found myself reading it no matter what I had previously said. I am glad I did, though. It was exactly what I needed in so many ways. I was captivated enough by the story that I read it in about a day. After taking about 2 weeks to read a book, that was a huge relief. I also really enjoyed the two books I read after it, so be sure and check in for those reviews!
This is a book about cloning, which I seem to like as a story element. I think because it is not a science-fiction as it used to be after successful cloning of sheep. For this particular book, Farmer has it so that rich people clone themselves so they can harvest body parts that will keep them alive for longer and longer. Normally when a clone is made, though, they are changed in their head to make them mindless. Matt, though, was allowed to retain his intelligence and grow-up essentially like a real kid. Well, intellectually, not exactly socially. In society clones were looked down upon, so Matt had to deal with a lot of prejudice. It means that he has to decide who he is going to be and deal with whether he wants to grow-up to be like his clone. He does have some great people around him to help him on his way.
Overall, this was a strong novel that I am not sure if my review is doing justice to. I think I am a bit rusty! Actually, the best way to put it is that I think this is probably the best young adult book I have read this year. There was just something about it that really appealed to me and worked for me during a bit of a reading slump. It seems to be a book that a lot of people love, so if you haven't had a chance to read it you should do so!
This also won the Printz award, so that is one more I can cross off my list!