Lacey's Reviews > For the Win

For the Win by Cory Doctorow
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's review
Feb 15, 11

really liked it
Read in February, 2011

I enjoyed this immensely more than Little Brother. This is a subtler, more nuanced, more complex version of the dystopia Doctorow attempted in his first YA novel.

From the research I've done, I seem to be the only one who didn't enjoy Little Brother, and who found such sweeping issues in that novel. In For The Win, however, I see Doctorow correcting his mistakes from the first novel, and self-consciously attempting to craft his characters more carefully, especially his female characters. There is none of this madonna/whore nonsense; the female characters are written with depth and heartbreaking precision. This novel is far more feminist and feminine-friendly. The female characters are real characters, and not just plot devices used as foils for our enterprising hero. In fact, this novel (encouragingly) has no enterprising hero. Instead, Doctorow creates an ensemble cast of characters who barely know one another, and carefully weaves together several subplots in a way that makes sense and is relatively free of holes.

Doctorow strikes a difficult balance between realism and optimism in this novel, a balance he failed to achieve for me in LB. He finds a way to incorporate the sensationalistic plot devices he loves in a way that is believable and completely lacking in irony. As characters we love make impossible choices and suffer under cringe-inducing circumstances, not once does Doctorow induce an eye-roll. The universe he creates (represents?) is consistent, entertaining, heartbreaking, and inspiring. He also found a way to explain complex ideas without taking focus away from the plot. Bravo, Cory.

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