3 S.R. Johannes: Bookanista: Cory Doctorow’s LITTLE BROTHER and HOMELAND

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bookanista: Cory Doctorow’s LITTLE BROTHER and HOMELAND

With all the stuff going on in the media around Internet snooping with the government, this is a timely review. 

Little Brother released in 2008, yet Homeland just released. Not sure why it took 7 years but at least there was a continuation.

Little Brother

Marcus, a.k.a “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, Marcus discovers that his 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: to take down the DHS himself.

Homeland (sequel) 

A few years later, California's economy collapses, but Marcus’s hacktivist past lands him a job as webmaster for a crusading politician who promises reform. Soon his former nemesis Masha emerges from the political underground to gift him with a thumbdrive containing a Wikileaks-style cable-dump of hard evidence of corporate and governmental perfidy. It’s incendiary stuff—and if Masha goes missing, Marcus is supposed to release it to the world. Then Marcus sees Masha being kidnapped by the same government agents who detained and tortured Marcus years earlier.

Marcus can leak the archive Masha gave him—but he can’t admit to being the leaker, because that will cost his employer the election. He’s surrounded by friends who remember what he did a few years ago and regard him as a hacker hero. He can’t even attend a demonstration without being dragged onstage and handed a mike. He’s not at all sure that just dumping the archive onto the Internet, before he’s gone through its millions of words, is the right thing to do.

Meanwhile, people are beginning to shadow him, people who look like they’re used to inflicting pain until they get the answers they want.

Fast-moving, passionate, and as current as next week, Homeland is every bit the equal of Little Brother—a paean to activism, to courage, to the drive to make the world a better place.

Here are my top 10 reasons why you should read this series:

1) Gives you a pretty scary picture of the how the US could be run  if terrorist threats continue and we move under martial law. Scary!
2) Learn about what people can really do on computers. The author and protagonist is knowledgeable without being too technical. Yet, I learned a lot about hacking and cyberspace in general.
3) It will make you think about what you put online. Very insightful and eye opening.
4) The seriousness of hacking - it's all fun and games until the govt gets wind of it :)
5) Marcus's voice is hilarious. In the midst of being chased I found myself laughing at how he sees the world. Love when a book can make me laugh and want to run all at once.
6) If you love Fahrenheit 451 or George Orwell books, Marcus is the Winston of modern society.
7) I love the vulnerability of the tough tech guy. You feel Marcus' pain and he isn't afraid to cry, which for this book is realistic.
8) Being so timely, this is a very realistic thriller. You feel like it could happen tomorrow.
9) The cover. I totally get the feel of a group of hackers with this cover. I love it for this subject.
10) Surprisingly this book is more about freedom than entrapment.
Bonus - surprisingly a little romance/sex :)

Check out the other Bookanista recs for the day:

Lenore Appelhans  wonders at ALL YOU NEVER WANTED by Adele Griffin

Shari Arnold loves SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL by Trish Doller

Tracy Banghart embraces IMPOSTOR by Susanne Winnacker

Nikki Katz gets the shivers for 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

Stasia Ward Kehoe shares her cover for THE SOUND OF LETTING GO

Jessica Love raves about ROAD TO TATER HILL by Edith M. Hemingway

Katy Upperman celebrates THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katja Millay


Sheena-kay Graham said...

I've always wanted to read Little Brother but never got around to buying it. Thanks for the reminder and it is a great series.

Anonymous said...

I ADORE Little Brother.
I am excited to read Homeland (and I actually got to meet Cory...He's pretty smart ;) ).

-Kate Tilton

Carol Riggs said...

LITTLE BROTHER is one of my fave "thinking" books! Usually I don't read many sequels because well, there are just too many books in the world and my to-read list is atrociously huge. But I think I will be reading this one! and my hubby will too. LITTLE BROTHER is what got my hubby to reading fiction, in general. Yay!