Monday Book Review: Little Brother January 4, 2010Posted by pupfiction in Book Reviews.
Tags: books, civil rights, cybersecurity, DHS, doctorow, first amendment, internet, privacy, security
Think you’re too sophisticated for Young Adult (YA) fiction? Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow, will have you thinking again. Rife with techy jargon, textese, and Spanglish slang, the language of this book is as forward thinking as its subject matter. Though not a tome, this heart pounding, page-turning thriller is a comprehensive look at the issues plaguing our society today – namely the all-too-topical debate of privacy versus security. Although at times digressive hacking tips dilute the plotline, the action heats up as the book progresses.
Doctorow’s book begins with “the worst terrorist attack ever perpetrated on our nation’s soil” – the destruction of San Franciso’s Bay Bridge and its attendant tunnel under the bay. His choice of San Francisco is deliberate, emphasizing the similitude of the Civil Rights Movement with today’s struggle to uphold the first amendment in the amorphous realm of the Internet. Marcus, alias m1k3y, and his gaming pals are playing hooky from school when the attack occurs and they find themselves unpropitiously in the wrong place at the wrong time, leading to their incarceration. What results is an all out war against the totalitarian arrest-happy Department of Homeland Security thugs by an underground movement of high schoolers who find themselves in far over their heads.
My initial reaction to Doctorow’s work was to wish that it had been written for adults, as the subject matter is of extreme importance. But then I realized Doctorow’s genius in targeting the generation of tomorrow. By doing so, he subscribes to the mantra of Marcus and his friends to not trust “anyone over twenty-five” (another echo of the Civil Rights Movement). While the ideologies of adults may be set in stone, teenagers who read this work and quickly find Marcus to be a role model, will take the issues at hand into consideration and maybe even alter their attitude about security and privacy. If Doctorow can be blamed for making his protagonist slightly too altruistic, slightly too steadfast and dogmatic in his beliefs for someone his age, it can be forgiven in light of this larger goal.
Overall: A must read for anyone who has ever questioned the man.