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House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer

Matt isn’t quite sure why Cecelia has hidden him away all his life but he knows that everything is about to change. Some kids from the main house have found out about him. He knows he should hide but he is also curious to know what other children are like. What he finds is that he is different from the others. He is a clone! Not just any clone. He is the clone of Matteo Alarcón, el Patrón. El Patron is the most powerful man in the country. As a matter of fact, he founded the country. Opium is a country that lies between the United States and Aztlan — formerly called Mexico. The economy is entirely based on growth, harvesting and sale of drugs.

El Patron is now 142 years old and relies on clones to supply the needed spare parts to keep him going. It is the law that clones have their brains destroyed when they are harvested but for some reason Matt is an exception. Everyone hates him except for Cecelia, the cook who raised him, and Tam Lin, his Scottish bodyguard. Most of the Alarcon family would rather see him dead or locked in a cage and treated like an animal, yet as the years go by, Matt is educated and gets to live under El Patron’s protection. But he is still a clone. No better than livestock. Harvested from a cow. Is Matt alive just to satisfy El Patron’s vanity, so that he can see himself again as a young, strong man? Or does El Patron have other plans for him?

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