Saturday, July 12, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Little Brother is a YA book written by Cory Doctorow it is the first book in a series. Little Brother was released on the 13 October 2008 and published by Harper Voyager. The ISBN is 0007288425.


The ultimate tale of teen rebellion – one seventeen-year-old against the surveillance state.
Big Brother is watching you. Who’s watching back?

Marcus is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works – and how to work the system. Smart, fast and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.
But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. 

In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison, where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state, where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.


The premise was just so very interesting there is not a lot more than that. I had not heard anything about the book beforehand or the author.


This book blew me away totally unexpectedly. Due to my own habits I generally know a little something about a book or author before reading, most of the books I read are part of a series but I have not been so surprised by the effect a book had on me since Daemon by Daniel Suarez which is also a techno-thriller with some similar themes.

A lot of books feature unfair, horrible things happening to the protagonist but this is one of a few books that actually make you feel it deep in your bones leaving you actually angry. This book takes the personal freedom vs security argument straps it in to a rocket and sends it off into the wild blue yonder.

Not only does this book make you think, it also manages to be very entertaining, Little Brother is a techno-thriller with far more believable and reachable tech. The things mentioned in here are not some logical extension of technologies that will be available “soon” they are things that happen here and now. The parallels with real world events aren’t difficult to make and one only need look at the news to see snooping legislation being discussed and voted on both in the US and the UK as I write this.

The issues around liberty versus security are only slightly less contentious then the situation in the Middle East with two sides that are never going to be able to meet in the middle. The book comes down on one side but it certainly doesn’t ignore the other side of the argument which would have been an easy thing to do.

This book though isn’t just about a fight for privacy it is about a guy in high school, trying to connect with his parents, and hanging out with his friends. It is the length that he goes to in order to avenge his friends that moves the story along and it is the conflict with his friends and family that keeps things real and not just like watching some debate.

I thoroughly recommend this book, I’m not going the cheesy route and say it changed my life but what it did do was make me think about things like my use of the Internet and what I am doing even in a small way to campaign for change. OK now that part sounds a little cheesy, go read the book.

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