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Little Brother Read...Discuss...Repeat!
August 2009 Selection: Little Brother
By: Cory Doctorow
Copyright: 2008


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About the Book:

Marcus, a.k.a "w1n5t0n," 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 San Francisco high school's intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

However, when he and a group of friends skip school to participate in a live-action alternate reality game on the city's streets, a terrorist attacks destroys the Bay Bridge and part of the BART public transportation system. Because of their proximity to the attack, and the custom electronics they're all carrying, Marcus and his friends are captured and imprisoned by security forces. After being interrogated for days by the Department of Homeland Security, Marcus, released into what is now a police state, decides to use his expertise in computer hacking to set things right.

Partly a hacker manual, partly a frighteningly updated Orwellian 1984, and partly a young man's coming-of-age story, Little Brother may be marketed as a Young Adult title, but it has a message for anyone living in the post-9/11 world. [Little Brother is the winner of the Prometheus Award for Libertarian Science Fiction, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year, and was a finalist for 2009 Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year].

Related Web sites:

Wikipedia page for Little Brother

Official book page on Cory Doctorow's web site

w1n5t0n on Instructables.com -- make your own hacks

Little Brother Facebook page

Little Brother page at the publisher's site


If You Like Little Brother, Try:

1984
By: George Orwell. 1948.

Crusader
By: Edward Bloor. 1999.

An Abundance of Katherines
By: John Green. 2006.

Double Helix
By: Nancy Werlin. 2004.

Snow Crash
By: Neal Stephenson. 1992.


Little Brother Reader Comments:

I didn't care for Marcus as a narrator -- he was a little too "high and mighty". And the "bad guys" were so cartoony, that it sort of made the entire plot less believable. However, in light of what our world is like after 9/11, the issues this book raises are still brought up in a fresh way.

-- Steve L.
patron of Gere Branch Library.
Customer Review Score - 7

I enjoyed the book, but then I've been reading Cory Doctorow's columns for a few years now. That, in part, proved to be a bit of a distraction -- this novel felt like a bunch of his "tech" and "privacy" columns all gathered up with a bit of narrative structure applied to hold everything together. Readable, but not highly recommendable.

-- Scott C.
patron of Bennett Martin Public Library.
Customer Review Score - 6

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