The post-apocalyptic novel The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer, explores the idea of predestined life. Matt is a boy virtually imprisoned in a small cottage on a large estate. He breaks free, only to discover he is the clone of the evil 140 year old drug lord who owns the estate.
At the beginning, Matt is surrounded by a warm, loving environment. He is being raised by Celia, El Patron’s cook. Matt’s upbringing is normal except that he is schooled at home and has no other children in his life.
When he finally ventures out of Celia’s cottage and discovers other children, he is shocked to discover he is a clone and treated worse than the livestock. The other servants and the children in El Patron’s household treat him cruelly. Matt makes two friends, a girl named Maria and a bodyguard named Tam Lin, who encourage him to rise above the clone prejudice and make something of himself.
This novel is set in a time where the land of Opium lies between the border of Aztlan (Mexico) and the United States. El Patron runs Opium, and provides the drug to both countries. When Matt escapes Opium, he initially finds the greater world to be as cruel as El Patron’s estate. Just like his initial venture from Celia’s cottage, however, Matt discovers friends that can help him succeed.
This book is a gripping tale of cruelty, prejudice, and friendship. Early on, you find yourself rooting for the clone to break free of society’s expectations and make something unique of himself.