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Homeland Hardcover – February 5, 2013
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Both are dystopian novels about surveillance societies, but in many ways, Homeland is a more immediate, present day thriller. The vast majority of surveillance technology Doctorow describes exists now, and is already deployed in schools and by governments and corporations. Schools are today monitoring kids, taking pictures of them at school, in their homes, in various states of undress. Governments are installing spyware, with its own weaknesses that then make it easier to for criminals to get access to your computer. Companies are turning vast quantities of personal data into ever-more targeted marketing.
While I recall being outraged at the spectre of draconian surveillance in Little Brother, that feeling turned more to fear in Homeland. The future is here, and it's not pretty.
As another reviewer noted, 'Severe Haircut Lady' is not very threatening as the villain of the story, but I would say the true antagonist is the surveillance state itself, rather than any one person.
Like most Doctorow novels, Homeland is one third entertainment, one third education about the state and direction of technology's influence on us, and one third practical lessons in privacy defense. Since reading it I've changed and lengthened passwords, turned on two-factor authentication, encrypted hard drives, and started using a secure VPN.Read more ›
Like Little Brother, Homeland must be read by anyone who cares about privacy, civil liberties, technology, or their intersection. Not only does the book address serious issues, it does so in a manner that makes it impossible to put it down until the very end. You'll be left actually thinking about social, legal, technological, and ethical issues, and that's exactly what society needs so desperately.
The new story is set a couple of years after the events in "Little Brother." Marcus Yarrow, who is struggling to pay for his college classes, is trying to find work. His parents, as always sympathetic, supportive but clueless, are now, unfortunately, also underemployed. The story opens with Marcus and his girlfriend, Ange Carvelli, attending the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert. This is the best part of the novel, in part because Doctorow describes the event so well, and in part because he recreates some of the mystery and suspense that drove "Little Brother." (Doctorow also juices up the Burning Man part of the book with some surprising real-life cameos.) At the festival, Marcus is given a thumb drive with sensitive documents that compromise the misdoings of a government contractor, and is instructed to post the materials on the Web if the source should "disappear."
There's some promise to this set up, but the momentum is quickly lost. When the source of course disappears, Marcus decides first to catalog the documents in his possession; this plot device allows characters from the first novel to come back in from the cold. Marcus's trusted network sets to work reading and providing notes on the trove of files, and while not quite a Sisyphean task, neither is it practicable.Read more ›
Markus and Ange are just less interesting this go-round. The conflict is not as tense. 'Severe Haircut Lady' gets a name, she is still ostensibly the villain, but she is not nearly as threatening. The conclusion is ambiguous, less satisfying and leaves a couple of big loose ends hanging.
The tech talk is interesting, but Doctorow goes a overboard celebrating the hacktavist / maker / burner culture.
Doctorow description of how badly the recession has damaged the San Francisco economy is slightly amusing considering that SF has been one of the least affected metropolitan areas.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Although the book is somewhat the author's soapbox, he makes his point in a non-obnoxious manner through wonderful plot and characters.Published 16 hours ago by generjones
This is a modern story for a modern time. Fantastic for a YA audience, but much here for their older peers and elders to digest and reflect upon. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Chris S. Markham
Unusual themes: the Burning Man festival, a realistic huge protest, and a Wikileaks treasure trove of government corruption. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Josiah Kirby White
I bought the book thinking it was not part of a series, now I have to decide if I'm going to have to decide on if I should get the other onePublished 2 months ago by Thor
Frighteningly close to home, but a great, quick exciting read.Published 4 months ago by M. W. Pinter
Amazing, thoughtful, as always. A great book for getting your less tech savvy friends to understand why online passwords and privacy are important.Published 6 months ago by NorthWest Consumer
This book isn't just awesome, it's important.
Doctorow can do all the great writer tricks-- plot, character, dialogue. Read more
Great book. A worth follow up to Little Brother. Cory Doctorow's work is consistently gripping, informative, and inspiring.Published 7 months ago by Hunter Markham