LITTLE BROTHER by Cory Doctorow

So we already had a discussion about teen dystopian lit. (see previous post) and how I don’t dig it like the teens do.  But hey! Guess what?  I loved Cory Doctorow’s “Little Brother” which is sort of a futuristic-terrorist-techno fable.  Apparently, the marvelous Neil Gaiman loved it too, so I’m just gonna let you read what he said about it.  (Cause, honestly, who can say it better than Mr. G?)

“A wonderful, important book…I’d recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I’ve read this year, and I’d want to get it into the hands of as many smart thirteen-year-olds, male and female, as I can. Because I think it’ll change lives. Because some kids, maybe just a few, won’t be the same after they’ve read it. Maybe they’ll change politically, maybe technologically. Maybe it’ll just be the first book they loved or that spoke to their inner geek. Maybe they’ll want to argue about it and disagree with it. Maybe they’ll want to open their computer and see what’s in there. I don’t know. It made me want to be thirteen again right now, and reading it for the first time.” —Neil Gaiman, author of Sandman and American Gods onLittle Brother.

The book begins with seventeen-year-old techno-geek “w1n5t0n” (aka Marcus) bypassing the school’s gait-recognition system by placing pebbles in his shoes, chatting secretly with friends on his IMParanoid messaging program, and routinely evading school security with his laptop, cell, WifFnder, and ingenuity. While skipping school, Markus is caught near the site of a massive terrorist attack on San Francisco and held by the Department of Homeland Security for six days of intensive interrogation.  After his release, he vows to use his skills to fight back against an increasingly frightening system of surveillance.

Set in the near future, Doctorow’s novel blurs the lines between current and potential technologies, and readers will delight in the details of how Markus attempts to stage a techno-revolution. Obvious parallels to Orwellian warnings and post-9/11 policies, such as the Patriot Act, will provide opportunity for classroom discussion and raise questions about our enthusiasm for technology, who monitors our school library collections, and how we contribute to our own lack of privacy. An extensive Web and print bibliography will build knowledge and make adults nervous. Buy multiple copies; this book will be h4wt (that’s “hot,” for the nonhackers).  (Booklist)


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