"Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow


TITLE: Little Brother

AUTHOR: Cory Doctorow

PUBLISHER: Tor Teen

PUBLISHED DATE: April 29, 2008

ISBN: 978-0765319852

PAGES: 384

I promise it was an accident that I finished this book on the anniversary of September 11.

And what a way to remember this world tragedy and analyze the effects of terrorism not just on our national security, but on what cyber security, privacy, and patriotism mean. I was blown away by this book, and think it should be required reading as a way to open up a dialogue about all of these very relevant themes.

Synopsis

To say Marcus is tech savvy is an understatement. He's the kid who builds his dream computer in his garage, and hacks the school's computer network for fun. He's also an extreme gamer and larper and finds himself a suspected terrorist by the Department of Homeland Security after an attack on the United States. He and his friends are hauled off to a detention center where they are questioned, treated badly, and one of Marcus's friends subsequently dies. Upon release, Marcus finds that he's not the only one under constant surveillance - it's the new normal of society. Determined to buck the system, Marcus and some of his friends use a popular music downloading site to offset encryption patterns so that he can organize an underground movement of youth who are against the government's constant surveillance.

Voice

Marcus is incredibly smart, but he's clearly a teenager. I was completely drawn into this story - that gets didactic at times - but ultimately I felt completely sucked into this young man's world of coding, and appreciation for the history of encryption. It's totally accessible so that teens as well as adults could read and appreciate the changing times we're in. Although this book is a dystopian - it reads very real. Written in 2008, it still reads fresh, like it could have been published this year. This s a jewel, that I think young people will be reading for years to come.

Style

The writing style is informal, technical, informative - it's a teen breaking down the rules of the cyber jungle. It's smart and fast paced...it's a definitely a thriller. By the premise I thought I would enjoy this, and I wasn't disappointed.

Setting

San Fran, baby! It's not specific it it's present day or futuristic...but it could be either or. I'm not sure if this book will read as fresh 8 years from now, but it'll certainly give teens of tomorrow a light shed on some of the biggest issues of our time.

Characters

Obviously, Marcus was the richest character. He's wickedly smart, but remains relatable. His father, and a few classmates maintain the position that giving up constitutional liberties in order to keep the