The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer Review

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Title: The Lord of Opium
Author: Nancy Farmer
Published: 2013
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 411 pages
Rating: ★★★½☆☆

The new book continues the story of Matt, the boy who was cloned from evil drug lord El Patrón in The House of the Scorpion. Now 14 years old, Matt rules his own country, the Land of Opium, the only thriving place in a world ravaged by ecological disaster. Though he knows that the cure for ending the suffering is hidden in Opium, Matt faces obstacles and enemies at every turn when he tries to use his power to help.

This book has been on my To Be Read list for so long, and my brother has been urging me to read it for months. I enjoyed The House of the Scorpion, the predecessor to this book, but due to my brother’s warning that The Lord of Opium isn’t as good, I began The Lord of Opium skeptically. In contrast to The House of the Scorpion, which was much faster paced, The Lord of Opium is a slower read, due to Matt’s struggling to adjust to his new life and power, the traveling of the Land of Opium, the meeting of new adversaries, the introductions of new characters, and elaboration on how things had functioned under the rule of El Patrón. The conflict for most of this book is within Matt; his person-vs-self conflict. However, a slower read is not always a bad thing. Although I usually I find myself enjoying fast paced books, I very much enjoyed the first 3/4 of The Lord of Opium. The last 1/4 was when I began to have some problems. I found that things weren’t thoroughly explained as well as they could have been, and that the problems were resolved almost too quickly. 

Packaging: 4/5 Stars. Not exactly a solid four stars for the cover, but a shaky four stars nonetheless. Although the cover art of the book may not be my absolute favorite, I do like it. In person, it’s actually very alluring. When I took off the sleeve of the book (since my copy is a hardback), I found that the spine had The Lord of Opium written in red, which I thought was a nice touch.

Writing Style: 4/5 Stars. I do enjoy Nancy Farmer’s writing style, and I think one of my favorite things about her is that she can convey to you, through her writing style, the exact emotions that she wants you to have towards each character. For example, I found Listen exasperating and annoying, but at the same time was affectionate towards her- like an annoying cousin. You can tell that that was exactly how Nancy Farmer had written her, and how she had written Matt to perceive her. She’s also very talented with imagery, and her words helped give me a good idea of how things were in the Land of Opium.

Characters: 4/5 Stars. I really enjoyed the newly introduced characters, especially Cienfuegos. I had really conflicting feelings towards him in the beginning, but as the story progressed, he became my favorite character. Listen and Mirasol are also characters that were very well written, as well as the villain figures. The reason why I’m not giving the characters 5/5 stars is because I feel that we didn’t get to see Celia nearly enough in the book, as well as Maria. I feel that Maria was better written when she was younger in The House of the Scorpion, because the character depth of Maria feels extremely shallow in The Lord of Opium.

Plot: 3/5 Stars. When it comes down to the plot, I found that there wasn’t exactly one big plot that the book went around. It was more a story about Matt, and the difficulties that he faces in his new life, as well as the secrecy of everything in the Land of Opium. Things became rather slow at points, and I found my mind occasionally wandering away from the story, which is what a good plot should never do. One clear plot line that I can grasp onto, however, was Matt’s insistence towards freeing the eejits. However, with so many things occurring at once, that plot line didn’t stand out enough for me to immediately remember that, “Oh, when it comes down to it, Matt was just trying hard to save the eejits”, which is what a book plot should do- it should be memorable and stand out.

Overall: 3.5/5 Stars. Although I gave every aspect of this book besides the plot a four, I have to rank this book an overall 3.5. I definitely enjoyed the read, but one of the most important components of a book is the plot. The packaging can be beautiful, the writing style can be outstanding, and the characters can be the best you’ve ever read about, but if the plot goes nowhere or is dry and dull, it will lose most of its potential. Overall, The Lord of Opium was an enjoyable sequel to The House of the Scorpion. Although it may not have been as strong as its predecessor, Nancy Farmer tells a story that both amuses and distresses, and leaves you wishing the characters the best of luck.

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