Lacy's Reviews > Little Brother

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
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Sep 05, 08

bookshelves: four-and-five-stars
Recommended for: Catherine Denial
Read in September, 2008

If you don't read the blog boingboing.net, you should. And if you like what you see, then you should definitely read Little Brother.

Written by Cory Doctorow, one of the editors of the delightfully subversive, fascinating and informative blog Boing Boing, Little Brother doesn't disappoint in any measure. It's a quick read, with lots of action, strong characters with good voices, and a quick-moving plot.

Like another of my recent reads, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks, this book is a pseudo-issues book, tackling the issue of individual freedoms versus national safety.

In the near future, Marcus and some friends ditch school to participate in the scavenger hunt portion of an online game, and are therefore in the wrong place at the worst possible time when a terrorist attack blows up the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. Arrested and held by the Department of Homeland Security, Marcus and his friends quickly learn what personal freedoms really mean, and when the DHS takes over the city, detaining, questioning, and wrongly imprisoning hundreds of innocent civilians in the pursuit of terrorists, the teens decide to fight back.

Part of the fascination of this book is its plausibility. Doctorow takes his plot to logical extremes, and all of the digital subversion the teens participate in is based in real technology and theory.

As with The Disreputable History, I was impressed with the way the author's argument was presented. While it's clear where Doctorow and his main characters stand on the issues, he presents the arguments of the other side and allows his characters to argue smartly, even eloquently for their side. We sometimes see the opposing characters as bumbling or moronic because they are seen through Marcus' eyes, but Doctorow doesn't take any shortcuts explaining his side of the argument.

It's also a great example of another trend I've been seeing in YA lately — authors giving their intended audience a great deal of credit. These books treat their teen audience as near-adults who think and decide for themselves, which is as it should be.

I've no doubt Little Brother will be challenged and banned widely — for a lot of reasons. So pin your "I read banned books" button proudly to your lapel and download it for free from the author's website if you can't get your hands on a copy anywhere else.
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