YMMV: House of the Scorpion
- Complete Monster: El Patrón (the original Matteo Alacrán) is the most powerful and evil drug lord of them all. El Patrón rules over the country of Opium and punishes anyone who tries to illegally cross his borders by capturing them and implanting computer chips in their brains, turning them into eejits. These eejits are essentially human robots, programmed to do certain tasks all while their thoughts and emotions are repressed by the computer chip. Even El Patrón's security team and certain staff members have been implanted with chips, turning them into high-functioning eejits bound to El Patrón's will. The most common usage of "dumb" eejits is for manual labor in the fields used to create his drugs. Due to the harsh conditions and poor care, they tend to have a low life expectancy, leading to hundreds of thousands of bodies being buried beneath the poppies. El Patrón, like many drug lords, keeps himself alive by harvesting organs from clones. Unlike most drug lords, however, El Patrón doesn't destroy his clones brains, instead he raises them like they were his own children. He pretends to care about them and their future, lavishing them with gifts, all because he sees them as extensions of himself and views their happy childhoods as stand-ins for the one he never got. When the time comes, he harvests and kills them without hesitation, all to extend his nearly one hundred and fifty-year-old life. El Patrón cares for no one but himself and sees everyone around him as his possessions. The dead siblings he pretends to mourn he only valued, not for who they were, but because they were his. In the end, after his death, he still manages to murder everyone close to him, his entire family, his friends, and most of his staff, by poisoning the wine they drank at his funeral. He also coded the deadly force fields surrounding his country to only be dismissed by his DNA. Meaning that when he died and the country went into lockdown, nobody could leave and no supplies could get in. His ultimate reason for this was to murder his entire country just to have a "fitting tribute" to take with him into the afterlife, just like the kings of old.
- Faux Symbolism: Why is Tam Lin named "Tam Lin"? Probably because it's Scottish.
- Harsher in Hindsight: The concept of Opium, a Latin American country ran by drug cartels, is becoming more and more possible with the Mexican Drug War at time of writing.
- Strangled by the Red String: Matt and Maria: Maria is the only girl around Matt's age in the entire book.
- Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Child labor is immoral. Killing one's clones to prolong one's existence is immoral. Turning people into computerized zombies is immoral.
- What Do You Mean, It's For Preteens? Despite being marketed as a book for a pre-teen audience, the book is very dark and touches on several controversial ethics issues.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: The central thematic elements in the story are a subtle critique of current American immigration politics, stem cell research, and narcotic policies.