Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
ISBN-10: 0765323117
TOR, New York, 2008
416 p.

GENRE: Action Adventure

TEASER: How far would you go to protect your privacy?

SUMMARY: Seventeen-year-old Marcus skips school to play Harajuku Fun Madness (and alternate reality game) with his friends, Va, Jolu, and Daryl. Suddenly they’re being taken to a hidden location and interrogated by the Department of Homeland Security. They him go and leave him with a warning. He will be watched. When he is reunited with his friends they realize that one of them is still missing, Daryl. Van wants to forget this ever happen and lay low, but Marcus won’t take this lying down. Marcus uses his knowledge of technology and hacking in order to outsmart the DHS. Marcus is about to start a teenage tech rebellion that will change the way people look at technology and privacy rights.

CRITIQUE: The novel is written in first person perspective through the protagonist, Marcus. There are many periods throughout the book were Marcus stops to explain the way some of the technology he is using. I appreciated the technical explanations throughout the novel; however, I did find many of them confusing. I feel that these educational tidbits add to the overall message of the book. Take control of your privacy and rights. You can do that by knowing the facts.

I felt the characters were well written and the plot to be well-balanced. The story was of course tech heavy but Doctorow lightened this somewhat by adding fun descriptions of San Francisco. The touch of romance was also nice to break the tension of the looming rebellion and technical facts. The characters were honest and believable. Even though Marcus started this rebellion, he still has moments of extreme doubt and fear. While reading about Marcus I was reminded off people I know, some of them are hackers, some of them are just paranoid. However, because I found his character so relatable I could see familiar faces within the story. I feel that this is not something that all author’s can do.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cory Doctorow is a Canadian blogger, activist, journalist, and author of young adult science fiction fantasy. He believes in liberalising copyright laws and is a proponent of the Creative Commons license. He is one of the few author’s who allows the his materials to be released on the Internet under Creative Commons licenses that encourage their re-use and sharing.

Some of his other fictional titles include: Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and For the Win. He currently lives in London with his wife and baby girl.



CHALLENGE ISSUES: Some readers might have issues with Marcus’s rebellion against the government, sexual content, and underage drinking of the book.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.


BOOKTALKING IDEAS: What would you do if you realized your rights were being violated? Would you act out like Marcus or step down like Van does?
Do you think that Marcus’s character is believable as a rebellious teen or is it a bit heavyhanded?

WHY INCLUDED: This is a great book for teen to get a different perspective on technology and privacy rights. It is thought provoking and would be a great addition to any library.