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Little Brother Paperback – Bargain Price, April 13, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 10 Up—When he ditches school one Friday morning, 17-year-old Marcus is hoping to get a head start on the Harajuku Fun Madness clue. But after a terrorist attack in San Francisco, he and his friends are swept up in the extralegal world of the Department of Homeland Security. After questioning that includes physical torture and psychological stress, Marcus is released, a marked man in a much darker San Francisco: a city of constant surveillance and civil-liberty forfeiture. Encouraging hackers from around the city, Marcus fights against the system while falling for one hacker in particular. Doctorow rapidly confronts issues, from civil liberties to cryptology to social justice. While his political bias is obvious, he does try to depict opposing viewpoints fairly. Those who have embraced the legislative developments since 9/11 may be horrified by his harsh take on Homeland Security, Guantánamo Bay, and the PATRIOT Act. Politics aside, Marcus is a wonderfully developed character: hyperaware of his surroundings, trying to redress past wrongs, and rebelling against authority. Teen espionage fans will appreciate the numerous gadgets made from everyday materials. One afterword by a noted cryptologist and another from an infamous hacker further reflect Doctorow's principles, and a bibliography has resources for teens interested in intellectual freedom, information access, and technology enhancements. Curious readers will also be able to visit BoingBoing, an eclectic group blog that Doctorow coedits. Raising pertinent questions and fostering discussion, this techno-thriller is an outstanding first purchase.—Chris Shoemaker, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Seventeen-year-old techno-geek “w1n5t0n” (aka Marcus) bypasses the school’s gait-recognition system by placing pebbles in his shoes, chats secretly with friends on his IMParanoid messaging program, and routinely evades school security with his laptop, cell, WifFnder, and ingenuity. While skipping school, Markus is caught near the site of a terrorist attack on San Francisco and held by the Department of Homeland Security for six days of intensive interrogation. After his release, he vows to use his skills to fight back against an increasingly frightening system of surveillance. Set in the near future, Doctorow’s novel blurs the lines between current and potential technologies, and readers will delight in the details of how Markus attempts to stage a techno-revolution. Obvious parallels to Orwellian warnings and post-9/11 policies, such as the Patriot Act, will provide opportunity for classroom discussion and raise questions about our enthusiasm for technology, who monitors our school library collections, and how we contribute to our own lack of privacy. An extensive Web and print bibliography will build knowledge and make adults nervous. Buy multiple copies; this book will be h4wt (that’s “hot,” for the nonhackers). Grades 8-12. --Cindy Dobrez --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bad writing, simplistic plot, undimensional characters of very very cool and honest teenagers, against very very bad and evil cops, politicians and the full US governement.Published 22 days ago by cambert
Highly recommended book. I loved it! I suggest it to others often.Published 25 days ago by Junktiquity
One of the best books I have ever read. Probably a Top book in its category. Good plot.Published 27 days ago by Feve Cariaga
Very realistic and informative. Great read. For high school to freshman college with added interest in computers and information technologyPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
“Little Brother” is a cringe-fest from beginning to end. (Well, at least from beginning to chapter 10. That is all I could take. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sagebrush Gardener
It's been over a year since I've read this book, but I remember loving every bit of it. It had been a while since a book I picked up immediately grabbed my attention, and this one... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Shannon
Excellent writing and characterization. Thought provoking, very realistic. Definitely recommending this to others.Published 2 months ago by Jenondelina
This is a wonderful novel about CyperTechnology pitting young people in San Francisco and the U.S. versus the Department of Homeland Security. Read morePublished 2 months ago by ami-mac-sun