Book Reviews · books

Book Review :: Lord of Opium


AUTHOR :: Nancy Farmer


RATING :: img_1262.png


Raised as a clone of El Patrón, the ruler of the land of Opium, fourteen-year-old Matt is not entirely ready to fill the shoes of his predecessor. The daily struggles of ruling are made even more difficult by the desperation of the people living in the lands surrounding his, as an ecological disaster has ravaged them almost to the point of no return. His enemies are many, but Matt finds himself equally afraid of his own potential to become every bit as bloodthirsty and ruthless as the tyrant he was cloned from.

How much wickedness could you do in the service of good before it turned into pure evil?

Matteo and most of the original characters are back!

After three long months (and 11 LONG years for those awaiting the sequel) since El Patron died, along with those who were given orders to drink poisoned wine at his funeral, Matt returns to his inherited kingdom and takes his place as the next Patron.

Matt takes on a responsibility that he never asked for. He is no longer treated with the hostility and cruelty he once experienced before (if you haven’t read House of Scorpion, please read it ASAP), but he knows he needs to prove himself to gain respect from those seeking to fool and betray him.

Although he does not care about running a drug business or asserting so much power, he begins to realize that a part of El Patron never left him. His own unexplainable rage and threats scare him and he wonders if he’s becoming more like the old Drug Lord.

He loathes carrying all the responsibilities that come with being the man in charge but realizes it can also help him put an end to the Eejit epidemic. The Eejits are human beings with microchips in their brains that control their emotions and force them to obey orders; they’re treated poorly and are hardly regarded as human beings.

He has so many mysteries to uncover, so many heavy decisions to make, and very few loyal supporters….

I had been waiting for Nancy Farmer’s sequel to be released since the day I finished House of Scorpion many years ago, when I was a freshmen in high school.

I ENJOYED House of Scorpion so SO much that I believed the sequel would be just as great if not BETTER… so imagine my disappointment when all those years of waiting and wondering shattered as I read one disappointing chapter after the next in Lord of Opium.

Yeah, Nancy… how DARE you?!

But enough talk of how disappointing this book was. Let me explain why this book didn’t really live up to the hype.

While the story had a great plot, it contained far too many details that killed my excitement for each mystery that was to be unraveled. There was too much description of the land of Opium, the different lands and people that Matt traveled to see, and an overwhelming amount of drug-related topics. Of course, drugs are what the story revolves around, but it seemed to slow down the story itself.

I was restless to discover what would happen next and felt bombarded with so much information that by the time I finished this book I felt more relieved that I got to the end instead of relieved to know how the story ended.

What was worse, almost all the characters- even Matt- were unlikable. Some redeem themselves towards end, but I lost the love I once had for both Maria and Matt.

In the first book, Maria and Matt are inseparable. And although Matt treats Maria poorly at some point, he eventually changes his behavior towards her as he realizes she’s one of the few people who is loyal to him by her own will…

…so when Matt decides his loyalty to Maria is up for debate because she’s going out to “parties” and “dancing” with strangers (even though she’s forced against her will to be alongside her mother) I just about had a fit. And when Matt secretly decides to awaken one of his servants– a young Eejit girl who Matt dubs Mirasol– and develops an attraction to her without telling Maria, the book lost its fourth star.

What’s worse, after a tragic accident forces Matt to inject Mirasol with an infuser that speeds up her death, Matt neglects Maria as he mourns the loss of a girl, whom he knows little of and served Matt out of force. Maria, who’d been loyal to Matt even to the point of defying her own family in the process, is left ignored and undesired until Matt suddenly realizes he’s still got someone who can comfort him.

Maria doesn’t question Matt’s loyalty to her even though there were hints that he was second guessing his affections towards her.

Matt also walks around like a dog that’s all bark no bite. He threatens and talks big, but hardly thinks to act like a patron. He seemed more whiney in this book than the last one.

He also lacks the necessary discernment to do away with people who are a threat to his empire. When the fraud nurse Fiona gives out information that isn’t hers to give, and then mistreats the young African cloned child Listen (yes, the little girl’s name is Listen), Matt’s punishment is simply putting Fiona to work somewhere she hates.

Instead of giving orders to kill Dr. Rivas whom he senses is a trouble maker if not an evil man, Matt’s unwillingness to have the doctor killed paves the road for Dr. Rivas to have the borders opened, allowing Matt’s enemies to pass through.

Matt is soft when he needs to stand his ground but becomes arrogant, proud, and rude when there is no need for it.

By the end of the story, as he sets the Eejits free from the mind controlling microchips, Matt becomes more a little more stable and mature in his understanding and leadership skills.

There are several things to love about the story. The plot, as complicated as it was with the endless details, was fascinating. Cienfuegos, Matt’s new bodyguard, was my favorite character because of his intelligence and strength. When Matt failed to act, Cienfuegos stepped in and did what Matt lacked the balls and intelligence to do.

I loved the story of the Eejits and their journey from being treated as slaves to finding freedom and going back to their families. It was like a piece of the biblical story of The Israelites in Egypt found in the book of Exodus.

I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the way Matt’s enemies were killed, but the clever way in which they were lead to their own doom was good enough to give it a B+.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book to those who read the first part ( wouldn’t want their excitement of this long awaited sequel to crash and burn) but i would say to read with a lower expectation.

Have you read House of Scorpion?

Do you believe the prequel was better than the sequel?

Share your thoughts below!

Thank you for reading!


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