Title: The Lord of Opium
Author: Nancy Farmer
Series: Matteo Alacran #2 on September 3rd 2013
Narrator: Raul Espanza
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Buy it | Goodreads
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.
PJV Quickie: I am really glad I received this novel via audiobook, Raul Espanza’s narration enhanced the novel in a wonderful way. I was taken in by the bleak, dystopian landscape of a very uniquely woven world created by Nancy Farmer. Espanza’s narration gave that landscape life, bringing it forth in an almost 3D like environment. I really enjoyed both the book and the narration.
Review: The world of Matteo Alacran is a very disturbing future world. The planet has been ravaged by environmental abuse, most of the animal population is extinct and “clean air” is unheard of. The area that was once parts of the United States and Mexico has been divided into territories, controlled by drug lords, specializing in certain drugs. Territories like Marijuana and Opium are a reality and evil drug lords rule their lands like twisted dictators.
The former clone, Matteo Alacran, is now in charge of one of these lands, Opium. His original self was the Patron of Opium and ruled for a hundred years, using clones like himself to elongate his life. But the inevitable happened, and El Patron did die, leaving his lands in disarray and Matt to figure out how to become a drug lord and stay true to himself.
Again I have to bring up the rich landscape that Farmer creates with her series. It was highly original, reminiscence of the great dystopian creators like Atwood and McCarty. Her detailing was present in every line of the story. The character of Matt is young and trying to figure out his new circumstances. His behavior is childlike at times and petty, but it felt real. The world of Opium was also highly interesting and you got to discover it as Matt discovered these parts of his world. From the freaky zombielike eejits that work the land and act as servants, to the people of the bio-dome that have lived there for so long that they’ve created their own “dome” religion.
While these richly portrayed dystopian environments tend to focus on the world and the surrounding events, instead of the characters involved, I did find an attachment to Matt and his circumstances along with some of the secondary characters.
It was an enjoyable listen overall. Farmer did a wonderful job with the second in this series, which could be read as a stand-alone, since the events could be digested on there own.
The one thing that I did notice about THE LORD OF OPIUM was that because of the broad exposition, I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I would have liked. Because there was so much going on, dipping in and out of experiences didn’t give as much inner angst as I am used to in a dystopian young adult novel.
Recommended for fans of dystopian and young adult fans. Fans of authors such as Scott Westerfeld and James Dashner. There are touchy subjects like drug use, even though nothing is graphically described, just discussed.