Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers on January 1st 1970
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Matteo Alacran was not born; he was harvested with the DNA from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium. Can a boy who was bred to guarantee another’s survival find his own purpose in life? And can he ever be free?
The book is set in Opium, a country between the United States and Atzlan, formerly Mexico. Matt discovers that he is the clone of El Patron, the dictator of Opium. All menial labor is done by eejits, humans whose brains and ability to reason and think has been replaced by a microchip. Matt learns as he grows up the purpose El Patron has for him and who he can and can not trust.
This book raised some serious questions about what it means to be human. It also had some pretty serious political undertones covering the drug trade, immigration, and human cloning. The book makes it pretty clear where the author stands on all points. The adult characters that treat Matt with respect show him kindness and teach him that ultimately he chooses his own path, it is not predetermined for him.
This book had a pretty eerie feel. I never felt a connection to Matt, but I did like Celia, the cook, and Tam Lin, his bodyguard. I felt like there were too many different characters to keep track of sometimes. I liked the political points in the book and thought that those issues were handled very well. Overall, I gave the book two stars out of five.