(book cover links to Goodreads)

Keywords: young adult, science-fiction, horror


At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacrán asks El Patrón’s bodyguard, “How old am I?…I know I don’t have a birthday like humans, but I was born.”

“You were harvested,” Tam Lin reminds him. “You were grown in that poor cow for nine months and then you were cut out of her.”

To most people around him, Matt is not a boy, but a beast. A room full of chicken litter with roaches for friends and old chicken bones for toys is considered good enough for him. But for El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium — a strip of poppy fields lying between the U.S. and what was once called Mexico — Matt is a guarantee of eternal life. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA.

Let me say off that bat, the story was highly predictable.

However, I didn’t care. The story that Farmer wrote is so well-executed and the imagery so fantastically painted I didn’t mind that I knew where the ride was going.

The moral struggles and growth of Matt made him a fascinating character. I went from hatred to pity to hatred to kind-of-like and finally to a sort of fondness and admiration.

The concepts of good and evil, souls, and clones were brilliant; I am so happy I read this.

My only complaint was the abrupt ending to my favorite character. But that is entirely personal.

The only thing holding me back from a 5/5 review is the predictability. It’s almost as though the author didn’t have enough confidence in the audience and sort of pushed any foreshadowing too forcefully. I would have enjoyed more suspension, but in any case, a fantastic, albeit, fast read.


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