Debbie's World of Books
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Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

August 6th, 2012 by Debbie's World of Books

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Source: Downloaded from Cory’s website

Publication date: April 29, 2008

Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary from Marcus aka “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 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, his injured best friend Darryl does not come out. The city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: “M1k3y” will take down the DHS himself.

I had to read this book for class and am so glad that it was assigned because I really enjoyed it although it will change your outlook on so many things.  The story took place for the most part in San Francisco and the Bay Area which is where I live which is always fun to experience but it also made the story that much more chilling.  Marcus experiences so many instances of surveillance that I don’t believe truly existed at the time of publication but do now.  He talks about BART train cards that track where people get on, get off and how often they are riding and the government using this to profile riders.  And what do you know?  We now have what’s called Clipper cards that for riders convenience can be tied to their credit cards and are scanned every time you enter and leave the station.  Thus providing all the information needed to profile readers like in Little Brother.  The other scary thing is Fastrak which was initially issued to make it easier for people to pay the bridge tolls without using cash.  Nowadays I notice that my Fastrak beeps whenever I enter and leave the airport and go over certain overpasses.  Who knows where else that information is being scanned?  I know most people would say what’s the big deal if you aren’t doing anything wrong but this book shows just how far the government can take things using this information even on innocent people.

Marcus was also an interesting character that draws the reader in.  I liked that he made some questionable choices that made me cringe and yet I totally get why he did.  In one instance he’s being psychologically tortured and he gives in pretty easily and gives up the information his torturer’s are seeking.  In so many books the hero stoically takes whatever is dished out to them without breaking.  Yes, that’s exciting but not all that realistic.  I think the average person would cave because we just aren’t expecting to go through that kind of trauma.

The one downside for me in this book and will not bother every reader is the amount of detail Doctorow went into about ciphers, protocols and other technological aspects of things.  Most of it went over my head and made my eyes glaze over.  I’m sure there are going to be those who are fascinated by the details so don’t let this deter you from reading this book.

Posted in 4 Star Books, 5 Star Books, Books, Young Adult

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