I so regret checking out The Lord of Opium at the same time as The House of the Scorpion, the first book in this series. I never really got into the sequel and just slogged through the 400+ pages simply to finish it so I could move on to something else (like Gone with the Wind). The problem is that NOTHING HAPPENS. There is no story arc; no climax; no build. Farmer simply has Matt bringing his friends to visit, fighting with his girlfriend, “cheating” on his girlfriend, and just romping around Opium, the land where he lives. In this second book, Matt is now the Patron in charge of Opium and all the drug lord duties that go with it. Farmer still brings in moral conflict with the cloning and power struggles, but it’s just not enough to save this book.
My other major issue with this book is the love triangle between Maria, Matt, and Mirasol. Maria has been Matt’s love interest since early into The House of the Scorpion, and it was no surprise that they now call each other novio and novia. Mirasol, Matt’s other love interest is a Waitress eejit. In Opium, eejits are slaves with chips in their brain that program them to do certain tasks without any pain or sentience. One major plot line of The Lord of Opium is Matt’s quest to free the eejits from their bondage. He finds that Mirasol momentarily comes out of her reverie when he plays a certain song where she begins to dance. Once the song stops playing she faints….and then he kisses her. This happens numerous times. How creepy is it that he’s taking advantage of someone who is both brainwashed, unconscious, and in his employ?! Eventually Mirasol is out of the picture (no spoilers), and at the end of the novel, Matt rekindles his relationship with Maria, and then they decide to get married because he’s this rich powerful Patron that can do whatever he wants. This is how the book ends!! These kids are 17 and ridiculously immature. What is Nancy Farmer thinking?!
In The House of the Scorpion, I sympathized with Matt and his plight. He was abused as a child and had to find his identity in the world as a clone. His coming of age story really developed him as a character, and made him more likable. For the majority of The Lord of Opium Matt is rather selfish and mean to those around him. I understand that he’s a moody teenager, but I did not sympathize with his situation. That is some of the reason that the first novel was better. There isn’t good character development with any of the characters in this second book, and I think that was the major reason why it was so boring.
Perhaps if I you loved The House of the Scorpion, this would be more enjoyable for you. I, however, was not a fan of either of these books, especially The Lord of Opium. Take my advice and just read The House of the Scorpion and leave it at that.