Review: The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer

lord of opium

The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer

Released September 3, 2013.

This is the sequel to the award-winning The House of the Scorpion, which came out in 2004.  Matt, clone of the dead drug lord El Patron, is now master of the Land of Opium, his own country.  All of the problems he saw as he grew up in Opium are still there.  The eejits, people who have been made into zombies by having computer chips placed in their brains, are still required for Opium to thrive.  Making opium and selling it is still the way that everything is funded.  And everyone expects Matt to step quickly into the same brutal ways as El Patron used.  Matt desperately wants to fix everything wrong with Opium, but he comes up against many obstacles.  Matt must quickly learn who to trust in the web of lies that El Patron created. 

I was thrilled to see a new book in this series, but concerned that I would have to re-read the first one because it has been nine years.  Somehow Farmer manages to place you right back into the world without rehashing the first book.  I found myself immediately recalling the first book, probably because of the strength of Farmer’s stories and world building.  It all came rushing back with no problems.  Now that is amazing writing!

Matt is such a complex character, just as he was in the first book.  He is both indebted to Opium and yet despises it.  He loves the land and the place itself but hates the reason it exists too.  He resents the money and wealth that surrounds him yet finds himself unable to not use it.  Matt is trapped in the most complicated of moral and ethical dilemmas and there is no clear way forward at any time.  The result is a novel that is riveting thanks to those deep questions.

The setting of lush Opium is written with care and detail.  Farmer lingers over descriptions of Opium as the last green place on earth and the fact that it is probably the only salvation for the rest of the world.  Her pacing is also nicely handled.  She slows it at times to allow relationships to build but the action keeps the pace fast and the book flies past.

A worthy successor to a great first novel, this book does not suffer from any sophomore slump.  Welcome back to the world of Opium!  Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Top 30 Reads of 2006

On to another year’s worth of reading.  Here are my favorite reads from 2006, with a reminder that this is the year I changed jobs and moved to a new city.  Despite that, I had to severely pare down my list because there were far too many amazing titles.  I got it down to 30, but not without some heartache.

An Abundance of Katherines 117997 Bebe Goes Shopping

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (reviewed September 22, 2006)

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole (reviewed December 21, 2006)

Bebe Goes Shopping by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Steven Salerno (reviewed May 7, 2006)

Terrier (Beka Cooper, #1)  Born to Rock Clay

Beka Cooper: Terrier by Tamora Pierce (reviewed December 11, 2006)

Born to Rock by Gordon Korman (reviewed November 15, 2006)

Clay by David Almond (reviewed May 3, 2006)

 Clementine (Clementine, #1) Crossing Bok Chitto Dairy Queen (Dairy Queen, #1)

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, pictures by Marla Frazee (reviewed September 27, 2006)

Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Jeanne Rorex Bridges (reviewed July 26, 2006)

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (reviewed October 23, 2006)

 Dear Mr. Rosenwald An Egg Is Quiet Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

Dear Mr. Rosenwald by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (reviewed July 31, 2006)

An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long (reviewed May 1, 2006)

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson, pictures by Tiphanie Beeke (reviewed September 13, 2006)

138070 Gossamer Here Lies the Librarian

Flotsam by David Wiesner (reviewed September 21, 2006)

Gossamer by Lois Lowry (reviewed April 25, 2006)

Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck (reviewed May 6, 2006)

Incantation Inside the Shadow City (Kiki Strike,#1) The Loud Silence of Francine Green

Incantation by Alice Hoffman (reviewed October 30, 2006)

Kiki Strike by Kirsten Miller (reviewed October 11, 2006)

Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman (reviewed December 12, 2006)

Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo, #1) Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Notes from the Midnight Driver

Monster Blood Tattoo: The Foundling (reviewed June 9, 2006)

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (reviewed June 25, 2006)

Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick (reviewed September 20, 2006)

 Rash The Rules of Survival The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs

Rash by Pete Hautman (reviewed June 10, 2006)

Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin (reviewed October 25, 2006)

Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney (reviewed February 8, 2006)

Sold The True Story of Stellina Wait for Me

Sold by Patricia McCormick (reviewed November 17, 2006)

The True Story of Stellina by Matteo Pericoli (reviewed April 10, 2006)

Wait for Me by An Na (reviewed July 11, 2006)

What Happened to Cass McBride? What the Moon Saw Wide Awake

What Happened to Cass McBride? by Gail Giles (reviewed December 15, 2006)

What the Moon Saw by Laura Resau (reviewed December 11, 2006)

Wide Awake by David Levithan (reviewed October 16, 2006)

This Week’s Tweets and Pins

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter and Pinterest accounts this week that you might find interesting:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Where Children Sleep - a glimpse of the way children sleep around the world, contrasting poverty and wealth

Better Book Titles – Children’s Books with Dark Messages http://buff.ly/13Ry7te #kidlit #humor

September/October Horn Book Magazine Starred Reviews – The Horn Book http://buff.ly/15KA8dZ #kidlit

Young dreamers – The Horn Book – an amazing piece by Christopher Myers that is a must read – http://buff.ly/173b2WV #kidlit #diversity

E-BOOKS

E-Books Strain Relations Between Libraries, Publishing Houses : NPR http://buff.ly/171bKUA #ebooks #libraries

Publishers protest DOJ’s proposed punishment for Apple, saying it hurts them too — Tech News and Analysis http://buff.ly/178vYfg

LIBRARIES

Love it!

10News – New downtown San Diego Central Library nears completion – News http://buff.ly/16x58iM #libraries

Denver Public Library is Introducing “DPL Connect”, A Mobile Library & Hotspot That Uses Pedal Power | LJ INFOdocket http://buff.ly/1etFXhO

How to Land a Library Job http://buff.ly/16wZqxa #libraries

Image, Public Perception, and Lego Librarians | Mr. Library Dude http://buff.ly/16x4Lop #librarians

Libraries Changed My Life | J.J. Colagrande http://buff.ly/171gMAi #libraries

Miami-Dade Public Libraries: Hundreds Rally To Save Local Branches http://buff.ly/170U6Ag #libraries

TEEN LIT

Sherman Alexie’s ‘Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian’ Pulled From School Reading List – http://buff.ly/1cG2bPz #yalit

Three major book-to-film changes for ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ – National The Hunger Games http://buff.ly/19eRKDE

YALSA’s updated Teen Book Finder app now available in the Apple App Store | ALA http://buff.ly/175Ht6W #yalit

Book tree