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Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
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Little Brother

by Cory Doctorow

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Little Brother (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,6463621,501 (4.04)2 / 269
Recently added byrena75, Sarah_Klein, Daniel_Bach, rich255, tecknicaltom, private library, MrtnHpp
  1. 231
    1984 by George Orwell (JFDR)
    JFDR: 1984's Big Brother is Little Brother's namesake.
  2. 100
    Feed by M. T. Anderson (kellyholmes)
  3. 50
    For the Win by Cory Doctorow (jshrop)
  4. 51
    Makers by Cory Doctorow (SheReads)
  5. 51
    The Hacker Crackdown: Law And Disorder On The Electronic Frontier by Bruce Sterling (persky)
    persky: The book that turned Doctorow on to the EFF and a real world account of various government agencies cracking down on teenage hackers.
  6. 31
    Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow (ahstrick)
  7. 20
    Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow (PghDragonMan)
  8. 20
    After by Francine Prose (meggyweg)
  9. 10
    Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For knowledge, the use and distribution, general purpose. Best for teens.
  10. 10
    Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (kaledrina)
  11. 10
    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Both about teens fighting back against the greater power using computers.
  12. 10
    The Media Monopoly by Ben H. Bagdikian (strande)
    strande: In chapter thirteen, Ange and Marcus call the media whores. "In fact, that's an insult to hardworking whores everywhere. They're, they're profiteers." Media Monopoly is a whole book about how the media turned into profiteers.
  13. 10
    Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government Saving Privacy in the Digital Age by Steven Levy (kraaivrouw)
  14. 54
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (JFDR)
  15. 10
    Geeks: How Two Lost Boys Rode the Internet Out of Idaho by Jon Katz (writecathy)
  16. 10
    So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld (kellyholmes)
  17. 10
    Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias (reconditereader)
    reconditereader: Both involve dystopias, resistance, oppression, technology, and interesting characters.
  18. 10
    The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian (JFDR)
  19. 00
    The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith (kaledrina)
  20. 00
    The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi (g33kgrrl)
    g33kgrrl: Young people take on the system.

(see all 31 recommendations)

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English (349)  German (3)  Italian (3)  Hungarian (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Indonesian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (362)
Showing 1-5 of 349 (next | show all)
I read Little Brother in two days, two sittings. I'm pretty sure I did it that fast because I was trying to get rid of the sick feeling in my stomach that I had all throughout the reading.

The sickness came from knowing that the surveillance state depicted in Cory Doctorow's novel is nearly upon us, which we now know thanks to Edward Snowden, even if we suspected it all along. Now, admittedly, not all governments engage in illegal rendition and torture as the US does in Little Brother (and real life), but the scenes describing government officials lying to the press about how peaceful protesters are terrorist sympathizers and tear-gassing peaceful gatherings ring eerily close to home. Especially after winter protests that we've seen here in Slovenia.

Here's the crux of the story: San Francisco is hit by a devastating terrorist attack, which destroys the city's main traffic vein, the Bay Bridge, leaving thousands of people dead. Naturally, the government goes full retard and transforms the city into a police state, aided and abetted by the clueless, paranoid mainstream media. Cameras, trait-recognition software, RFID trackers, police and Department of Homeland Security checkpoints are everywhere. Our point of view character, a high school student Marcus Yallow and a couple of his friends are in the wrong place at the wrong time when the explosions happen. They are nabbed by the DHS and detained for several days in a secret location off-shore, before eventually being released. When they come out, Marcus starts thinking how they may be able to get back at the DHS and expose them and puts his tech skills and his network of friends to work.

I enjoyed Little Brother quite a lot, sickening feelings aside, but the problem is, this is almost exactly the same book as Pirate Cinema (Cory's more recent novel). Exact same plot and characters (who just have different names). Replace one world metropolis (London) with another (San Francisco) and one type of clueless malevolent authorities (copyright enforcers) with a different set ("homeland security") and you have the same book. Marcus could have as well been called Trent (the protagonist in Pirate Cinema), his girlfriend is exactly the same type of supercool geeky chick as Trent's and his posse of friends has all the same types as well. Even some details are the same, like getting good food out of supermarket dumpsters while on the run from "the law". The fact that Cory would resort to this kind of story arc and character personality repetition, not unlike another very successful but literary suspect author that shall rename nameless (hint: it's Dan Brown), was a minor disappointment to me.

Even the author's writing strengths (thankfully) and shortcomings (less thankfully) are almost the same as those of Pirate Cinema: plausible if not dead-on accurate depiction of society under such laws, implausible way that a group of teenagers outsmarts the entire world, accurate explanations of different types of relevant technology and its use (though showing the use in function of the story could be used more than lengthy descriptions in the how-to style), a bit one-sided world-view presentation, no redeeming qualities of the bad guys whatsoever. One thing that struck me as a bit odd is Marcus' reaction to the terrorist attack. Given how some four thousand two hundred of his neighbors are killed when the bridge blows up, he seems remarkably emotionally unaffected by it all. There does not seem to be much grief or anger there, or even recognition that he, or his closest friends and relatives, might have been among those killed. Though perhaps this normal reaction was overshadowed by the consequences of his terrifying detention.

Still, this is a good novel (3.5 stars). It reads like a thriller, I wasn't bored even for a minute. And, of course, we should all pay really close attention to the overall message that Cory is trying to get across here. The warnings against an Orwellian surveillance state, against the invasion of our privacy and against the surrender of our basic rights in exchange for some mock security are nowadays more relevant than even when this book was published. The two afterwords written by security expert Bruce Schneier and by the Xbox hacker Andrew "bunnie" Huang, expounding on the subject, are also a great read. I certainly hope Cory Doctorow continues writing about this stuff and plan on supporting his work in the future. ( )
  matija2019 | Jan 8, 2019 |
Interesting concept. Very difficult to read. Not a fan of the casual use of slurs. ( )
  KaylaTheGinger | Nov 29, 2018 |
Interesting on the message/theme level and for its explanations of tech, current and likely near-future... but the characters other than the narrator tended to be a bit flat. ( )
  akaGingerK | Sep 30, 2018 |
Listening to on CD. So far, engaging and snarky--hacker-kid with civil rights and a heart of gold against the man.

Marcus, the 17-year-old San Francisco hacker with a soft spot for civil rights, takes on the Department of Homeland Security in the not-too-distant future where our lives are monitored and manipulated by ubiquitous cameras, gait recognition software, and RFIDs. He and his pals are caught skipping school to partake in the alluringly named "Harajuku Fun Madness" and are taken in after a terrorist attack on the Bay Bridge. Despite being held without arrest and tortured, Marcus, with a little help from Paranoid Linux and the Xnet, his smart-savvy girlfriend, supportive and conveniently incurious parents, and a crusading reporter with the ability to storm "Gitmo by the Bay" and release him and all of the other inmates from the clutches of the DHS torturers, does prevail.

Lots of action, some hanky-panky, and abundant high tech coolness will appeal to most high school readers, even those for whom the politely explanatory passages about the technologies employed will be unnecessary. ( )
  msmilton | Jul 18, 2018 |
Listening to on CD. So far, engaging and snarky--hacker-kid with civil rights and a heart of gold against the man.

Marcus, the 17-year-old San Francisco hacker with a soft spot for civil rights, takes on the Department of Homeland Security in the not-too-distant future where our lives are monitored and manipulated by ubiquitous cameras, gait recognition software, and RFIDs. He and his pals are caught skipping school to partake in the alluringly named "Harajuku Fun Madness" and are taken in after a terrorist attack on the Bay Bridge. Despite being held without arrest and tortured, Marcus, with a little help from Paranoid Linux and the Xnet, his smart-savvy girlfriend, supportive and conveniently incurious parents, and a crusading reporter with the ability to storm "Gitmo by the Bay" and release him and all of the other inmates from the clutches of the DHS torturers, does prevail.

Lots of action, some hanky-panky, and abundant high tech coolness will appeal to most high school readers, even those for whom the politely explanatory passages about the technologies employed will be unnecessary. ( )
  msmilton | Jul 18, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 349 (next | show all)
Little Brother represents a great step forward in the burgeoning subgenre of dystopian young-adult SF. It brings a greater degree of political sophistication, geekiness and civil disobedience to a genre that was already serving up a milder dose of rebellion. After this, no YA novel will be able to get away with watering down its youthful revolution.
 
MY favorite thing about “Little Brother” is that every page is charged with an authentic sense of the personal and ethical need for a better relationship to information technology, a visceral sense that one’s continued dignity and independence depend on it: “My technology was working for me, serving me, protecting me. It wasn’t spying on me. This is why I loved technology: if you used it right, it could give you power and privacy.”

I can’t help being on this book’s side, even in its clunkiest moments. It’s a neat story and a cogently written, passionately felt argument.
 

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cory Doctorowprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gutzschhahn, Uwe-MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hayden, Patrick NielsenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heyborne, KirbyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoteling, SpringDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Huang, AndrewAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lutjen, PeterCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schneier, BruceAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shimizu, YukoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Dedication
For Alice, who makes me whole
First words
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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
The ultimate tale of teen rebellion -- one seventeen-year-old against the surveillance state. Big Brother is watching you. Who's watching back? Marcus 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 no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765319853, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:29 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

After being interrogated for days by the Department of Homeland Security in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco, California, seventeen-year-old Marcus, released into what is now a police state, decides to use his expertise in computer hacking to set things right.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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