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Little Brother Paperback – Bargain Price, April 13, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 494 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, April 13, 2010
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Teen; First Edition edition (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765323117
  • ASIN: B004A14W2C
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (494 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,753,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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 emotions of youth - it's that we literally cannot reset our minds to that state. We know too much, we've experienced too much. The best we can do is an approximation of how we think we remember how things were when we were still young enough not to know better.

It was with this in mind that I started to read Little Brother, and while I thought the book was a lot of fun to read, it probably wasn't nearly as cool as it would have been if I were fourteen years old.

Young Marcus Yallow, AKA w1n5t0n, AKA m1k3y, is a senior at Cesar Chavez high school in San Francisco, and he's what we used to call a "computer whiz" back when I was a kid. Marcus has an excellent grasp of how systems work, and finds great pleasure and thrill in either strengthening or outwitting those systems. Thus, he is able to fool the various security measures in place in his school building so that he can do the things his teachers don't want him to do - send IMs in class, sneak out whenever he wants, steal library books, that kind of thing. He's a hacker supreme, a trickster, and a very big fish in his little pond. He's so confident and cocky, in fact, that within twenty pages I wanted nothing more than to see him get his comeuppance.

Which is pretty much what happens. A series of bombs go off, destroying the Bay Bridge and killing thousands of people in an attack that dwarfs 9/11.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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 teenagers.

The setting is the near future, when some ill-defined terrorist group decides to blow up the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Marcus, our hero, and several of his friends are picked up in a rather wide sweep by Homeland Security forces as possible suspects. And therein lies the tale, as the actions of the security forces clash violently with Marcus's idea of what is right and proper in the supposed land-of-the-free America. What Marcus decides to do about this situation is an instructional manual to the reader in just how personal freedom and privacy have been restricted and what can be done about it in today's very high-tech world of security cameras, RFIDs, cryptography, computer databases, and the insidious insinuation of propaganda both at our schools and into everything we see and hear on the internet and our TVs and from the mouths of our political leaders.

The story bubbles with suspense, and the actions that Marcus takes are very believable as something a seventeen-year old could actually do. It is very easy to identify with Marcus and become very sympathetic to his cause, while the situation itself is stark enough to frighten the daylights out of the reader as being all too possible.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this novel immensely. I want to make that clear from the start. There are many reviews that are going to talk only about how important and topical Little Brother is. They're going to talk about how this novel needed to be written. They're all right, but I think everybody should know how much FUN it is to read (even while you're being outraged by how possible it all is). I started reading it and didn't put it down until I was finished.

Little Brother is the first-person narrative of Marcus, a 17 year-old with a talent for technology. Doctorow gets Marcus' voice just right. He alternates between street-swagger and vulnerability, between naivete and expertise. I found him to be an entirely believable contradiction, which is a pretty good definition of a teenager. At first, I found Marcus' love of explaining technology a little irritating, but I couldn't figure out why. Then I realized that it reminded me of my own poorly restrained tendency to try to explain computers to anyone who would listen (35 years ago). Nothing reaches you quite like seeing your own flaws in the hero.

Marcus finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time. Without revealing any plot details, suffice it to say that he comes to the attention of a law-enforcement agency with a broad remit and limited oversight. Deceit and mistrust test his family and friendships as he comes face to face with the conflict between personal safety and the responsibilities of a citizen.

Cory Doctorow has managed to create a wonderful fusion of science fiction, action novel, political thriller, and whimsical romp. It's very hard to bring those elements together, but he has succeeded admirably. I haven't seen anyone pull this off since "The Long Run" by Daniel Keys Moran.

Buy it. Read it. Buy copies for your kids. Once they start reading it, they'll finish it.
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