Thursday, June 26, 2008

I'm back...

Well, my internet problems haven't exactly been solved, but I've managed to find some solutions around them so I can update this blog. Things should be more or less back to normal after my trip out of town this weekend. In the meantime, I have a finally have a review of Little Brother available for posting as well as two more reviews in the pipeline.

Marcus Yallow is a teen hacker living in San Francisco who doesn’t think beyond ditching school to play an ARG. But his world changes forever when terrorists attack his city and the Department of Homeland Security arrests him for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He becomes even more outraged as security measures enacted by the DHS curtail freedoms and treat everyone like a potential terrorist. Thus begins his personal battle for justice.

It’s hard to miss the theme of this book. Marcus is the consummate underdog outnumbered and outgunned by a runaway Big Brother. The book is set in San Francisco, one of the most ideological and open-minded places in the country. The book reeks with radicalism and rebelliousness. This is not a bad thing. While Little Brother is not exactly subtle, it does say what needs to be said. Doctorow tries to highlight the importance of social and political awareness, not just to the teen set but also for everyone. Doctorow attempts to have a genuine debate on freedom versus security and for the most part he succeeds. Especially for the younger generation that is the target of this novel.

Little Brother is chock full of technical jargon and information dumps, including technology that doesn’t currently exist, so it can be a little tough to get into first. And while it is aimed at teenagers it is a worthwhile read for adults as well. Characters, both young and adult are well written. Some choose to fight like Marcus does, some fear to do anything; others openly support the enhanced security measures. Ultimately though the book is about the importance of freedoms.

Neil Gaiman has said Little Brother is a must-read for teenagers and I agree. It’s also a good story on the dangers of security versus freedom. Recommended.

Rating: 8/10.

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