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Homeland Paperback – May 27, 2014
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Doctorow picks up the story of Marcus Yallow, two years after the events of Little Brother (Tor, 2008). Marcus and Ange are attending the Burning Man event in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, enjoying the myriad oddities there, when Marcus is approached by Masha. He had never expected to see her again and is even more surprised by her reason for contacting him. She gives him a flash drive containing the key to unlock more than 800,000 files that document numerous acts of governmental and corporate skullduggery and asks him to make them public if anything happens to her. Before Burning Man ends, Masha is snatched by Marcus's nemesis, Carrie Johnstone, and some rent-a-goons. As if this isn't enough, Marcus also meets the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation playing D & D, with Wil Wheaton of "Star Trek" fame as game master. One of the EFF founders gives Marcus a lead on a job working as webmaster for Joseph Noss, an independent candidate running for the California Senate. When he arrives back in San Francisco, he has to figure out how to release the incriminating documents without compromising his job. While Doctorow is known as a sci-fi writer, none of the science or technology here is fictional so the story hits close to home. The author combines excitement, romance, humor, and geekery with challenging questions for readers. Anyone concerned about the future of information should read this book.-Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WIα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
*Starred Review* Marcus is back in this sequel to the crossover thriller Little Brother (2008). While attending the Burning Man festival, Marcus receives a USB drive from a hacker, Masha, with more than 800,000 incriminating government documents, and she advises Marcus to publish the material if anything happens to her. Meanwhile, a contact at the festival recommends Marcus to California Senate Independent candidate Joe Noss as a webmaster, and he has his first real job, but can he fulfill his promise to Masha and keep his new position? Doctorow sends readers into a world of Darknet secret websites, Occupy protests, kidnapping and interrogation, and hacking. The narrative is threaded with geek teen culture, economic problems, election strategy, corporate greed, government conspiracies, and privacy issues, and technology nerds will eat this for breakfast with a cup of really good coffee—Marcus says cold-pressed is the only way to go. Libraries are going to want to “pwn” multiple copies to meet demand, and hope that readers take up the activism call to use their “skillz” for good. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Doctorow’s international following is already lining up for this long-awaited sequel. Grades 8-12. --Cindy Dobrez --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Now the main character, several years older, has gone from agitator to hapless follower. He is sucked into a story with the same heavy-handed government types trampling on the rights of the citizenry in the same ways as before, but he doesn't seem to have the energy to fight it any more. Instead, he spends most of the book waffling about what he should do, following around others that are resisting, and narrating long-winded explanations of complex technologies that honestly don't have much to do with the plot of the book. I think the author just felt that since the first book had a fair amount of cutting edge technology in it, this one should too.
Really, it was a mess. I found myself skipping the pages of techno-jargon in the second half of the book, and that's never a good sign. I kept waiting for the main character to wake up and make his stand, but it never happened. And then, with a magic puff of smoke, another person goes and resolves everything for him and the book ends. A real letdown.
Things are going to heck in a hand basket in near future San Fransisco as the number of employed people is steadily dropping. Marcus has dropped out of college and is desperately looking for a job. And people are looking for Marcus. I could not tell when the book is set other than the near future (it was published in 2013).
There is a huge backstory going in the book about the high cost of college education in the USA and some apparent usury going on in student loan fees. I have no idea about the student loan usury. And yes, college has gotten very expensive in the USA.
There is a public domain version of the book at craphound.com.
Covered in this story are the issues facing us today in regards to privacy and transparency of our governments. Sprinkled throughout are short "How tos" on how to secure your privacy and anonymity.
It's categorized as "Young Adult" or "Teen Reader", but this is a novel that can be read by 5th graders up to 90 year old's. It's topics and poignancy are just as applicable to anyone in that entire range.
Now, Doctorow seems to have a writing style that you either love, or hate. So, if you loved "Little Brother", you'll love this book. If you hated "Little Brother", you'll hate this one.
"If this and its sequel "Homeland" don't scare the bejesus out of you then you deserve to live in a totalitarian state. And certainly current events suggest this isn't a science fiction story - NSA comes to mind. Yes, it's not quite as polished as I would have liked. The problem w/ technology is that it dates quickly. And clearly those who aren't IT geeks may have trouble following along the details. But you should pay attention to what you are giving up for convenience - your cell phone does contain GPS, your phone calls are recorded, your email is collected. Your life is not your own private world. If you think this could not happen, you are wrong. And if you equate security w/ secrecy, if you think that only bad people fear scrutiny, if you think your government can't be corrupted by those who put profit and power ahead of everything, you are wrong. It would be so much easier than you ever imagine.Read it and think."
I don't think I have anything more to say.