Today’s Book: Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow
The plot: Marcus, a.k.a. w1n5t0n (pronounced “Winston,” not “double-you-one-en-five-tee-zero-en”), is a 17-year-old high school student in San Francisco, California. He’s also a hacker who has learned how to fool the video cameras, gait recognition software and RFID (called ‘arphids’) technology to skip classes. Usually, he’s going out with his friends Vanessa, Darryl, and Jolu to play their favorite ARG (Alternate Reality Game), Harajuku Fun Madness.
The group just happens to be on the streets one day when a group of terrorists blow up the Bay Bridge. They all get taken captive by the Department of Homeland Security, and held for several days. When they return, the world as they know it has changed – and not for the better. Marcus and his friends find new ways to retain their privacy with new technology and hacked versions of old technology, and some everyday paranoia and ingenuity. Can they get their city and their lives back?
Why You’ll Love It: Doctorow’s vision of a modern-day 1984 is thrilling and exciting, and in parts, a little bit sad. There’s a some romance, and espionage, of course, and while the book was originally intended for the Young Adult crowd, adults who enjoy a good technology thriller or suspense tale will enjoy it, too. It’s a frightening vision of a post-9/11 world that will entice you and make you think.
Also a draw are the explanations of the technology that Marcus uses; if you don’t understand Linux or Cryptography, there are short descriptions and histories included in the flow of the text.
Who Will/Should Read It: Young Adults, especially boys (the book is written from Marcus’ point of view), wannabe techno-wizards, aspiring activists, and anyone who wants a good modern thrill.
YA Fic Doctorow WCV ROK ROG SHL WDB
Teen F Doctorow TPL
Little Brother is also available as an electronic audiobook, and as a variety of online files (including .lit, .pdf, and .mobi) from Doctorow’s website.