138 of 153 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Security and Freedom
In some ways, this book harks back to the juveniles of fifties as written by some of the great masters of sf, most especially Heinlein. Like those earlier books, it portrays teenagers that are intelligent, resourceful, game-loving, and confrontational, but are still at times prone to making stupid mistakes in the name of peer-group status. In other words, they are real...
Published on May 27, 2008 by Patrick Shepherd
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, but some pretty glaring biases involved
Probably the biggest hurdle to overcome when reading young adult fiction is the fact that I'm not a young adult. As most adults know, things look very different from this part of the timeline, and it's often very difficult to remember not only how you thought when you were younger, but why you thought the way you did. And it's not a matter of just denying the feelings and...
Published on January 1, 2011 by Chris Gladis
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5.0 out of 5 stars So what if it's political? Enjoyable and relevant read.,
When I was researching this book, I found some professional reviewers complaining about the heavy political content. I kept this in mind as I read wondering why "political content" or themes would be a bad thing for a novel. Recently, I watched a video of Neal Stephenson ([...]) in which he noted that art ceased to be so when it became political. Whether or not this is true, Doctorow does a fantastic job in Little Brother telling a real story in a heavily politicized environment. Stories do not cease to be stories once they enter the political (is anything ever not political?), and Doctorow shows the complexities of the world very well.
The technological discussions were by far the novel's greatest strength. Sometimes, especially in the first section of the book, Doctorow explained different technological issues at the cost of the plot, but I suppose this was necessary to educate some readers. The Xnet was brilliant, as was his look at school surveillance trends. Nothing in Little Brother was too far off from reality and those things that are already in existence, he incorporated believably and interestingly into his narrative.
Doctorow's social analysis was incredibly interesting. I was engaged and convinced by his portrayals of youth, of homelessness, and of school dynamics. All of my favorite parts of the book--with the exception of the vampmob--came at the complex intersections of different types of people. The character development was mostly excellent, but an editing slip up when Ange was referred to as Van was, I believe, telling. I did find myself wanting more emotion from Marcus regarding the apparent death of his best friend, but most of the time emotions and dialogue balanced with action to keep the story's themes interesting and engaging. I think the best character was the city of San Francisco. Doctorow's SF is alive and dynamic and I felt as though he took me there.
At the end of the book, after the story has concluded, we are treated to two afterwords and a bibliographic essay, all of which are fascinating, well written, and very applicable. I very much like the idea of containing a bibliographic essay in a work of fiction since, as anyone who has attempted creative writing knows intimately, fiction requires as much research as many nonfiction projects.
Overall, it was an enjoyable, profound read, and I look forward to reading more from Cory Doctorow.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book,
Great narritive of David vs Goliath in which a simple geek winds up taking on the DHS.
Worth buying the paper copy. But 10 bucks when I can get it for free from the author's own website? Have they gone NUTS?
5.0 out of 5 stars Be paranoid.. .it might just save your life!,
I read Little Brother on Audiobook because it was a selection for my local library's book club. I had no idea what this book was about before I went into it but I ended up LOVING it!
This is an awesome book about technology, politics, rebellion, paranoia, and how to be an overall wise-ass.
The book is set in the in the not-so-distant future (this can even be happening now), where there are gait cameras in schools and each and every one of your actions (electronic and otherwise) is being tracked by the government - where you swipe your id, how often you ride the subway and what lines, who you call, etc etc.
So what happens if a bomb goes off and now the entire city is under the threat of terrorists? What if the gov't is trying to capture the terrorists and they end up capturing a bunch of high school kinds instead?
The book questions: How is all that technology helping or hurting? Is it actually getting things done? And especially getting them done CORRECTLY?
Well, it was VERY interesting scenario, with several characters on the line, and fates (whole lives) at steak.
The author is very smart in that he presents the technology to us, the challenges, and then finds ways around the technology, and if that gets cracked, then he finds ways around that. He is very smart. And I loved how the parents act as a foil in the plot, how things are so sided (or are they?), how someone's paranoia may save him and/or hurt him. And how a bunch of smart kids can win a war.
This book is awesome.
Yes, there's a good deal of techno speak, but I was able to understand it even though i'm not a hacker or computer geek. Doctorow breaks it down into basic English so no fears. All you computer geeks out there take note - you might actually learn something!
I definitely recommend this book to all ye who tread carefully towards technology (like me), to the computer geeks and hackers of the world, and to high school kids who will be entering this not-so-distant future.
Also, I definitely recommend the audiobook because the age, knowledge, and excitement of the narrator really helps to drive the plot! I've talked to people who actually read the book and the said it went slow, but i loved the audiobook.
A GREAT book!
5.0 out of 5 stars Could Not Put It Down,
"I'm a huge fan of *Little Brother.* Reading about M1k3y, Ange and their friends helped me visualize the escalating intrusions on our freedom and privacy wrought by advances in technology. The book describes a dystopia that seems chillingly plausible--and near" Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
When I saw the last of a three part quote go through my Twitter feed I went "What? Chief Justice of 9th Circuit?" and clicked on Cory Doctorow's Twitter account, @doctorow, to read the full quote. It made me jump over to Amazon for my "1 click" and I started reading "Little Brother" on my Kindle after supper.
As dawn was breaking the next day I got to the end of the book. It was that compelling. I had a committee meeting to go to and I went with only 2 hours sleep.
This book articulated all my fears, all my family's fears, about the loss of personal freedom and privacy via technology, in the quest of seeking out "terrorists".
How many terrorists have been caught compared to how many innocent citizen's freedom of speech, freedom of movement and rights to privacy, have been violated? The "terrorists" have won if we live in a state of fear all the time. They have won when our phones can be tapped without a warrant. They have won when our cell phones, Fast track, GPS, and other "digital helpers" can and are used to track our movements.
I have recommended that my 4 grown sons, aged from 45 to 32, read this book. I've recommended it to friends of theirs because it is their future that's being screwed by a growing police state in America. Oh yes, the British people will say "Oh we have more CTV cameras than you do." Well you also do not have a Constitution, Bill of Rights, nor "open primaries".
The characters in this book may be young, but because they are young they are idealistic. They don't have jobs or mortgages to worry about when they speak out against injustice. Their fear of death does not stand in their way of going into a fight. The future that's being screwed up is their future. It seems logical and necessary to have these issues be seen through the eyes and lives of young humans on the transition of becoming adults. Perhaps protest against the government should be a rite of passage for teen agers.
I know it was for me because I'm a Boomer who marched in Civil Rights protests in the mid 1960s and got tear gassed for protesting against the Vietnam War. I recommend this book if you still have that spark of protest in your blood, for the chickens of the 1960s have come home to roost: Arab Spring, London Riots, Occupy Everything.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book!,
With Little Brother Cory Doctorow has managed to wrap up an important message and way of thinking into a highly entertaining read. I can't wait for the sequel Homeland.
I look forward to the day my son is old enough to share this book with him.
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously cool book, accurate Techie details,
This review is from: Little Brother (Hardcover)
This book was a big hit in our 'Geeky' household. My teens borrowed it from a cruise-ship library, and could not put it down (even with the activities onboard)! They read it nonstop, but the last teen didn't quite finish, so I ordered it as soon as our feet hit terra firma. We also purchased "Makers" by the same author.
I have since noticed it on a Prep School's summer reading list, even though tis was definitely not YAF (young adult fiction).
Apparently there are quite a few Techie details incorporated into the plot, and they seem to be accurate and recent.
The only negative comment was that parts of it were a bit grim, but it was appropriate for the plot.
4.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this.,
Not just kids, everyone. Especially anyone who ever thought the Patriot Act was a good idea. Is the book left leaning? Oh yeah. Is it heavy on the politics? Definitely. Does that make all its points wrong? No. No. And HELL no.
What if Homeland Security decided, based on the flimsiest of flimsy evidence, that you were a threat to the nation? Then proceeded to detain and torture you, not just for information, but, when they realize you don't have any, just because they feel like it. Sounds far-fetched, but the problem is that they CAN do that. To anyone. They can make anyone disappear. In the book it's a bunch of teenagers doing nothing wrong except skipping school to play a game, but the point is it could be me, or you, or people you know.
The whole book is, as it was meant to be and rightfully should be, really, seriously scary. Likely more so when it was written, in the last year of that wacko religious nutjob's eight year reign of destruction, but even with that wanker out of office, the points in the book are still valid and still terrifying. The ending even worse because it's so REAL, it's what would probably happen and it grates on any rational person's sense of justice.
The world isn't fair. It sucks and the people with absolute power are more than likely to be corrupted absolutely. It's what the rest of us do about it that matters, especially when the cost is so dear. At what price, freedom? Any. It's worth any and everything, because it's so easy to give away, and so hard to get back.
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read,
This is a must read for younger audiences. The dangers of an authoritarian government and the erosion of civil liberties are too great a threat not to involve the younger generation right now.
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Preachy For Me,
I got this book after reading several reviews from Amazon and other places. I was disappointed. I found myself skimming through the technical explanations to get back to the plot. I also found it too "preachy" because the author kept hammering home the point of government taking over too much control in the name of public safety. Perhaps the author thought that the point needed to be revisited/explained over and over because the book is geared toward young adults. But I believe readers are smarter than that! The plot was good but hidden among too many other detractors.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read,
Little Brother was the November book club pick here at Gin and Rhetoric, and I really wish that more people had participated in the conversation because this book is phenomenal. It's a fantastic story -- compelling, terrifying (not in a horror way) and eye opening. I think it's a book that every teenager (and probably every adult too) should read. It makes you think twice about the things that you take for granted, and definitely makes you want to go back to carrying cash instead of cards. RFID blocking wallet? I think so!
I've heard Cory Doctorow's name mentioned over and over again, but I'd never read anything by him. What caught my eye with Little Brother was the blurb from Neil Gaiman on the book's cover:
"I'd recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I've read this year."
Wow! High praise, right? How could I pass this book by? The answer is simple, I couldn't. And folks, here's some free advice, never pass up a recommendation by Neil Gaiman. The man is a genius, and he knows good books.
Little Brother is the story of Marcus, a high school hacker who ends up being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Marcus and his friends cut class and end up being near the center of a terrorist attack on San Francisco. The teens get picked up by Homeland Security, and the story evolves from there. Doctorow deals with some strong themes and very important ideas in Little Brother. This book will make people think -- think about what they are willing to give up for the sake of safety, and think about whether or not that safety is just an illusion. After reading Little Brother, I feel very strongly that it's a book that should be read and taught in High Schools. I think that the discussions that would arise from this book would be invaluable and hugely important for a generation of kids growing up in a world that is hugely different from the way it was ten years ago. The issues that Doctorow raises with Little Brother are ones that teenagers, and adults, really need to consider as the world we live in creeps closer and closer to the world of Orwell's 1984.
Doctorow's book, which would work as a modern day companion piece to 1984, is very well written. The plot and characters are strong and the pacing is fantastic. I really, highly, recommend this book. It's an important work of fiction.
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Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Hardcover - April 29, 2008)