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 to nearly one hundred and fifty-years old 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, only to harvests and kill them without hesitation when the time comes. El Patrón cares for no one but himself and sees everyone around him as his possessions, such as the dead siblings he only valued because they were his. In the end, after his death, he still manages to murder everyone close to him by poisoning the wine they drank at his funeral. He also put his country into lockdown with deadly force fields only to be dismissed by his DNA, leaving them to starve as 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.