Little Brother

I picked up Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother for my son this weekend and read it myself on the plane home. I don’t read much fiction but I really enjoyed this one, which I feel is a much better story than Eastern Standard Tribe, the only other book of his I’ve read.

I really couldn’t put the book down. It reminded me of books like Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and Snow Crash, and I think that it will resonate with teenagers (I found it in the Teen section of the bookstore) as well as anyone interested in technology, culture and the limits of state-controlled security.

Little Brother is available as a free download (Creative Commons Licensed) so you don’t have to outlay any cash. I personally prefer the paper format for longer reads. Here’s the opening paragraph:

I’m a senior at Cesar Chavez high in San Francisco’s sunny Mission district, and that makes me one of the most surveilled people in the world. My name is Marcus Yallow, but back when this story starts, I was going by w1n5t0n. Pronounced “Winston.”

*Not* pronounced “Double-you-one-enn-five-tee-zero-enn” — unless you’re a clueless disciplinary officer who’s far enough behind the curve that you still call the Internet “the information superhighway.”

I know just such a clueless person, and his name is Fred Benson, one of three vice-principals at Cesar Chavez. He’s a sucking chest wound of a human being. But if you’re going to have a jailer, better a clueless one than one who’s really on the ball.

“Marcus Yallow,” he said over the PA one Friday morning. The PA isn’t very good to begin with, and when you combine that with Benson’s habitual mumble, you get something that sounds more like someone struggling to digest a bad burrito than a school announcement. But human beings are good at picking their names out of audio confusion — it’s a survival trait.

I grabbed my bag and folded my laptop three-quarters shut — I didn’t want to blow my downloads — and got ready for the inevitable.

“Report to the administration office immediately.”

1 thought on “Little Brother”

  1. I had the good fortune to get to talk briefly w/ Cory on behalf of our library blog, Shelf Talk. He’s in Seattle this weekend and is visiting one of our libraries. It is very heartening to find so many good throught-provoking novels in the Young Adult fiction aisle, and this is a prime example.


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