Thursday, June 12, 2008
Little Brother- Cory Doctorow
Little Brother has been getting all kinds of buzzzzz on those YA blogs and listserves I read... and when an ARC showed up for the Juvie kids, I thought I'd better read it before I passed it on. I am not a big techie-scifi kinda girl, but I do love a good revolution and I always cheer for the underdog. Little Brother would be good for fans of books like Tashjian's The Gospel According to Larry (for the taking-down-the-man portions), Anderson's Feed and Westerfeld's Ugies (for the techno-revolution stuff).
It is the very near future, and terrorists have attacked San Francisco. Marcus and his three ARGing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_reality_game) and LARPing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LARP) friends are found near the source of the attack and are arrested. They are brutally beaten, tortured, and treated like the scum of the earth... they received inhumane treatment that would not be appropriate for adults, let alone minors. When Marcus is released from prison a week later, the rage and rebellion he feels is uncontainable. If Big Brother wants to spy on him, control his life and watch his movements, then he wants retribution. Marcus creates Little Brother, the online group of teenage hackers and technogeeks who use technology (and their X-Boxes) to bring democracy back to America after the Department of Homeland Security flexes its muscles in a terroristic, violent manner.
While the technology and intriguing characters are central components to the plot of this novel, the techno-rants and freedom of speech tirades Marcus sometimes spews can be a little heavy handed. However, I don't think this will discourage teens, and I think they will be able to identify with the idealism expressed in the book. Also, Marcus is not a perfect character. He is flawed, but acknowledges and learns from his mistakes, which makes him even more believable.
In Little Brother, all kinds of cool gadgets and hacks are described. Here is a website (which I believe is managed by the author) that explains how to create most of what's in the book. Wouldn't be fun to do some hacking as a library program?