Saturday, December 22, 2012

Little Brother (Little Brother #1), by Cory Doctorow

Barnes & Noble

Marcus--aka “w1n5t0n”--is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, his injured best friend Darryl does not come out. The city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: "M1k3y" will take down the DHS himself.

Present day or near-future. Another terrorist attack, this time in San Francisco. Four friends are skipping school to take part in an on- and off-line game when they are rounded up by DHS officials and detained. After several days of questioning, they are (mostly) released. Being branded a terrorist--even though it was just a case of wrong place, wrong time--has changed something in Marcus. No longer content to ignore how easy it is for the government to track it's citizens' activities via modern technology, he embarks on a mission to take back his--and others'--privacy. And to take down the Department of Homeland Security while he does it.

I really liked this novel. I'm a techie by trade, so I enjoyed the snippets of IT jargon (don't worry; Doctorow makes it part of the story and gives clear descriptions). There were a handful of times that the book felt a bit pretentious, if only because I have encountered *a lot* of big egos in my job. And it's impossible not to think of Anonymous and 4chan when it comes to underground movements.

Teenage boys will love this: not only is the hero a 17-year-old, he's not the typical "hot guy" and uses his smarts to fight back. And he gets the girl!

If you liked Ready Player One, I recommend giving this book a try.

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