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Homeland by Cory Doctorow
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Homeland (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Cory Doctorow

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3762528,713 (3.88)6
Member:usagijihen
Title:Homeland
Authors:Cory Doctorow
Info:Tor Teen (2013), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:best of 2013, own, reviewed

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Homeland by Cory Doctorow (2013)

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English (23)  French (2)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
This review and others posted over at my blog.

Homeland takes place a few years after Little Brother, after Marcus has had to drop out of college and is struggling to find a job. He runs into Masha at the Burning Man festival and she hands him a flash drive, containing thousands of files full of dirty government secrets. She makes him promise that if she goes missing, he has to release the documents. Marcus then gets a job with a local politician who promises change – then Masha goes missing. But if Marcus releases the documents right away, the world will know who did it and he could also cost his employer the campaign. Once again, Marcus is being shadowed by dangerous people and has to decide what to do with the documents before they’re taken from him.

What I liked:
Homeland wasn’t fast paced like Little Brother, yet it was still exciting. The focus was more on local demonstrations and hacking than evading evil government operatives. Although there are still evil government operatives attacking Marcus.

To be honest, I don’t quite know how to review this book. This time, I was more aware of Doctorow’s style and his voice – I also read the Afterwards more closely and fully realized that these two books aren’t just about hacker teens. They’re about speaking out (against the government or any organization I suppose) when you don’t agree with what’s being done; they’re about standing up for human rights and realizing that you can make a change. My thoughts about this book are all over the place, so I’m sorry if my review doesn’t have much of a point.

I don’t want to sound crazy, but these books are fun to read and occasionally made me laugh, and they also made me think, a lot. I got a little paranoid about technology and security, like when I read about lawful intercept, which could potentially involve fake updates being sent to your phone or computer, allowing people to spy on you through GPS, camera and mic. Then I got excited reading about hackerspaces, like Noisebridge, which is a place for technical-creative projects, run by their members to provide an educational institution intended for public benefit. I even learned about a website called Code Academy, where you can learn to code websites for free! Then I got scared when I read about Marcus being nabbed at a public demonstration: “The police were checking people, logging them, and copying all the data off their phones before letting them go.” Sadly, I can imagine something like this happening.

This book made me want to get up and do something! But then, I realized I was tired, and instead I went back to resting in bed. In all seriousness, Doctorow does provide a lot of helpful links and information in his Afterwards, so when I’m not feeling lazy, I can do some research and maybe go stand up for something I believe in.

Here are a couple quotes I enjoyed:

“Move one step in the direction of your goal. Remember that you can change direction to maneuver around obstacles.”

“It’s easy to feel hopeless in the face of the difficult issues that we face every day – how could one person effectively resist anything so much larger than herself? Once we stop acting alone, we have a chance for positive change. To protest is to stop and say that you object, to resist is to stop others from going along without thinking and to build alternatives is to give everyone new choices.”

What I didn’t like:
There’s really nothing wrong with this book – unless you count that at times it made me feel guilty for not being an activist and doing more for myself and my country.

~

To me, both Little Brother and Homeland are not your average young adult novels. I love that Doctorow encourages teens to learn more about the government and technology and how it’s used. I think these books are great for adults too and I’m glad I read them! If you’re at all interested in reading about technology and government conspiracies, with teenage protagonists, check out these books! ( )
  MillieHennessy | Nov 16, 2014 |
I liked it, but it lacked the vigor of Little Brother. Kids have to grow up, but the angst of the college student was just less entertaining to me than the angst of the wrongfully imprisoned high school kids.

Other random comments: Using the same villain was ... interesting. I didn't actually love this villain, but it gave Doctorow a chance to explore the protagonist's PTSD, which I appreciated. On the other hand, I didn't really love the guest appearances of big name Bay Area / Burning Man culture, and the general coolness vibe. ( )
  lquilter | Oct 5, 2014 |
The best measure of how I feel about Cory Doctorow's Homeland is that I read it in the course of two incredibly busy days. I carved out time late at night and between highly productive work projects to devour this book. I really enjoyed it and it made me tear up a time or two.

It's not perfect. It doesn't have the impact of Little Brother, but it is a worthy follow up and does a number of things better than the first one. I think it does a better job of serving as a gate-way drug to geek skills than Little Brother, and that's a non-trivial data point.

The book is highly politicized, but I think Doctorow's restraint is important to note. Much more so than in Pirate Cinema (another didactic YA tech novel by Doctorow) Cory Doctorow paints his juvenile tech hero's path as one of restraint. Marcus Yallow (the protagonist) chooses intentionally how to exercise the power his tech skills grant him. This restraint is contrasted to the techno-anarchism or techno-vigilantism of Anonymous and other hacker communities. This fine and subtle distinction may be lost by those looking for clearer distinctions between the white and black hats, but I want to applaud the author for showing that the ability to do things with technology != the right to do them. Yallow chooses well, but his restraint may be lost on less sophisticated readers and/or reviewers.

In the end, I'm on board. Doctorow has done a fine job turning the moral quandries of the information frontiers into a very human novel for young people. In the end, it is better for all of us to empower ourselves to make as many choices as possible, since the alternatives are to surrender that agency to government, corporate, or black-hat computer criminal groups. The choices aren't easy, but better to make difficult choices than to be a pawn. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
I liked Little Brother so much I was excited to get my hands on Homeland as quick as I could. Unfortunately that was the only excitement I held for this though. The same group of. Hat actress returns, a bit scared and damaged from past experiences. To me though the new set of problems Marcus and company find doesn't have the same depth and sense of doom that the original book had. ( )
  capiam1234 | Aug 3, 2014 |
This sequel to "Little Brother" doesn't quite live up to its predecessor. At the end of LB, Marcus has gone from a somewhat cocky teen rebel to a wiser, scarred near-adult. He learns; he grows; he evolves. In contrast, Marcus ends Homeland in basically the same shape he starts in. It's a shame, because the writing in both books is good, if a bit tech-y in places.

In any event, the book begins with Marcus and his girlfriend Ange having a great time at Burning Man. They run into Masha, a former baddie in LB, who gives them a USB stick with a complete and very damaging dossier on "Severe Haircut Lady," the Big Bad from LB. She wants Marcus to leak it, Wikileaks-style, in hopes that the info will bring down the clandestine Homeland Security apparatus.

Then Masha disappears, and Marcus has a dilemma--how to release the info without drawing the attention of the baddies. In the meantime, he's found a dream job as a webmaster for an up-and-coming politician. The rest of the book covers his attempts to get the info out without losing his head, his friends, or his job.

I'll keep this one, because I do like the characters, it's a quick read, and the writing is good. I had the pleasure of hearing Cory Doctorow talk about Homeland on his recent tour, and I don't think we've heard the last of Marcus. I just hope that in the next one, Marcus continues to evolve, and the tension/stakes are higher. ( )
  Pat_F. | Jul 25, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Mr. Doctorow is bang up-to-date (as Orwell never was) on the uses of rapidly changing technology, both good and bad. If you want to keep up, there's a four-page appendix on how to protect your privacy and use the Net productively—so long as you're allowed, that is.
added by sgump | editWall Street Journal, Tom Shippey (Feb 19, 2013)
 
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For Alice and Poesy, who make me whole.
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Attending Burning Man made me simultaneously one of the most photographed people on the planet and one of the least surveilled humans in the modern world.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A current day story about teens use of technology that gets them mixed up with political campaigns, espionage, and hacking government documents. It was too long and drawn out with descriptions that would only appeal to like minded computer geeks.
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When Marcus, once called M1k3y, receives a thumbdrive containing evidence of corporate and governmental treachery, his job, fame, family, and well-being, as well as his reform-minded employer's election campaign, are all endangered.

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