Monday, June 4, 2012

Book Review: Little Brother

Little Brother
by Cory Doctorow
Purchased/Paperback
Genre: Dystopian
Big Themes: Terrorism, Cyber Security, Freedom, Privacy, Government, Torture, Friendship, Love
***Grad School Text***

Summary: Marcus is a 17 year-old tech genius who gets caught in the wrong place at the wrong time during a catastrophic terrorist attack on San Francisco.  Because of all the tech gear Marcus carries with him, the Department of Homeland Security suspects he had something to do with the attack.  After days of interrogation and torture, Marcus swears to get revenge on the DHS...

What I Liked:

The book made you think.  I haven't read a book that made me think about big issues like this in awhile.  It made me question what level of surveillance is okay for the government or another institution to do.  It made me want to learn more about cyber security, programming, and cryptography.  It made me wonder what liberties or conveniences I would give up if my safety were threatened.  These are real issues that face us today as the internet is such an integral part of our daily life, but at the same time makes us so vulnerable.  I think this is an important (but fun) book for people to read in today's world.

The Voice: Marcus had a great personality.  I really enjoyed him as a narrator.  He was funny and quirky. He explained complex technology in an easy-going, conversational way, and yet revealed his doubts, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities with total honesty.  I was always on the same page as him in terms of where he was going, what was important, and how he was feeling.  Narration is definitely a strength of the book.

What I Didn't Like: 

Heavy Tech Language Impacted Pacing: The book was a tad heavy on technology and explanations of how the technology works.  Granted the explanations are usually kept under a page and told in Marcus' quirky way.  They held my interest.  But if you know my reading preferences by now, you know I like my books fast paced.  I have little patience for slow plots and heavy description.  So while the descriptions of how different forms of cyber security worked were well-done, I did notice how they affected the pacing.  (I still finished the book in three days, so please don't think it's a slow read.)

Live Action Role Play: This hobby (dressing up in costume and pretending to be vampires or wizards or dudes with swords) popped up a few times in the book.  It's nerdy.  Mainstream readers might be turned off by this activity that is on the fringe of Geek World.  I just took it for what it was.  I would hope most readers would still be open to all the big questions and issues this book brings up and not shy away because of nerdy subplots.

My Rating: Based on the book's description, I wasn't too excited to read it, but I'm really glad I did.  I loved the big ideas this book made me think about and I loved the voice of the narrator.  I'm giving it 4 big stars out of five.

Recommended For Readers 14 and up
Due to sexual content and mature themes

Sidenote: The frequent coffee drinking in the book made me CRAVE COFFEE while I was reading.  And lots of yummy descriptions of food too.  If you like that sort of thing  ^_^

10 comments:

  1. I have been meaning to read this one for years. I seriously have to get to it sooner rather than later. I didn't realize they played larp games or that there was any sexual content. Good to know going in.

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    1. It was really well done. I was impressed!

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  2. I've heard of Cory Doctorow before - and I feel like he's one of those authors that are kind of under the radar but if you know who he is and have read one of his books you get like tons of bonus life points. I'd like to read one of his books these days, not only to get those points, but because I've heard he's a really smart writer.

    This one does sound really interesting! And I'm totally with you on the pacing - it seems like, anymore, I need lots of action throughout the book with tons of twists and turns!

    Great review - I'll have to check this one out someday.

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    1. I hadn't heard of Cory Doctorow until he was on my reading list for this class. I'm glad I get bonus life points ^_^

      I definitely think we're a little spoiled in YA in terms of books having a faster pace. I think the industry demands it and authors are pressured to deliver... and we readers reap the benefits :)

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  3. Descriptions of food?! I love that kind of thing ; )

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  4. I've heard of this but never read it. Sounds very interesting though. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I think the tech descriptions would drive me a bit nuts too, but I'm glad they aren't overally long and the narrator's voice is engaging! I don't mind nerdy things...I don't role-play, but I've heard of it, so it wouldn't bother me to read about. :)

    -Lauren

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    1. It was a great book. And I'm always looking for guy-friendly YA to recommend :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I'm so glad you reviewed this book! I've seen it around and had it on my TBR, but I think yours is the first review I've read for it. You've reviewed it so well that it is now the only review I need to read to know I should pick this book up. Thought-provoking, dystopia that's actually about relevant government control, a MC with a good narrative voice, and food descriptions! Yup, definitely something I should check out. Thank you! :)

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    1. Yay! I'm glad you found my review helpful! I definitely think this is a book worth reading because of how relevant it is to today's society. Hope you like it too! :)

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