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Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Little Brother (edition 2010)

by Cory Doctorow

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,9953281,281 (4.06)2 / 253
Title:Little Brother
Authors:Cory Doctorow
Info:Tor Teen (2010), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library, Recommendation engine

Work details

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

  1. 211
    Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (JFDR)
    JFDR: 1984's Big Brother is Little Brother's namesake.
  2. 100
    Feed by M. T. Anderson (snozzberry)
  3. 50
    For the Win by Cory Doctorow (jshrop)
  4. 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.
  5. 51
    Makers by Cory Doctorow (SheReads)
  6. 31
    Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow (ahstrick)
  7. 20
    After by Francine Prose (meggyweg)
  8. 20
    Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow (PghDragonMan)
  9. 10
    The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian (JFDR)
  10. 10
    Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For knowledge, the use and distribution, general purpose. Best for teens.
  11. 10
    Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government Saving Privacy in the Digital Age by Steven Levy (kraaivrouw)
  12. 10
    So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld (snozzberry)
  13. 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.
  14. 10
    Geeks: How Two Lost Boys Rode the Internet Out of Idaho by Jon Katz (writecathy)
  15. 00
    Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias (reconditereader)
    reconditereader: Both involve dystopias, resistance, oppression, technology, and interesting characters.
  16. 00
    Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (kaledrina)
  17. 00
    Z by Michael Thomas Ford (kaledrina)
  18. 00
    The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith (kaledrina)
  19. 00
    Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky (kaledrina)
  20. 00
    Scroogled by Cory Doctorow (Liberuno)

(see all 28 recommendations)


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English (311)  German (3)  Italian (3)  Hungarian (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Indonesian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (324)
Showing 1-5 of 311 (next | show all)
Seventeen-year-old master hacker Marcus (aka w1n5t0n) makes a habit of evading school security with a combination of his cellphone, laptop, WifFnder, resourcefulness, and friends. But while skipping school one day, he is caught near the site of a terrorist attack. After six days of harsh interrogation by the Department of Homeland Security, Marcus is released into an ominous San Francisco with a new awareness. Marcus organizes all his hacker friends to fight for their civil liberties and to throw DHS out of his town. Marcus is a wonderful hero fighting to change society, defend principles, and rebel against oppression -- in the spirit of The Hunger Games and Divergent. Doctorow's homage to Orwell raises questions in our post-9/11, post-PATRIOT ACT, world.

The afterword includes materials from an acclaimed cryptologist and a well-known hacker as well as bibliography of resources on intellectual freedom, information access and technological enhancements. Little Brother makes a great discussion book for teens and adults alike.
  ktoonen | May 27, 2015 |
Marcus, a San Franciscan teen is was with friends during a terrorist attack that brought the city to a standstill. Trying to wave down help for a friend injured in the attack, the group is black bagged by DHS agents, held for a week, and harshly interrogated. When all but one of the group are dropped off with the warning that they will be watched, and if they tell anyone they will be imprisoned permanently, Marcus decides to take action. Working with xnet, an underground internet group that operates in such a way that surveillance is very difficult, Marcus finds himself accidentally leading a movement opposing the limitless authority given to the national agencies now operating in his city. The book contains numerous interesting historical references and anecdotes, describing the history of cyphers, internet cryptography and hacking.
The novel is heavy handed in both its message and its attempts to identify with young adult readers. The style, relying more on allegory, less on applicability, detracts from the potential of a fully-formed world and may prevent readers from suspending their disbelief. As well, the attempt to simultaneously heroize and victimize the teens creates a DHS that lacks the cognizant domination of Oceania's government (1984) or Norsefire (V for Vendetta). Instead the complete incompetence of the DHS acts as a motivator for the protagonist, but leaves readers confused by how the DHS conclusions were reached (movies like War Games: The Dead Code use similar themes but explain why the protagonist is targeted and how the federal agents deduce what is happening).
The novel focuses on teen protagonists, making them more aware of current events and better able to react to them than adults. Teens are better hackers, organizers, and digital enthusiasts than adults, and employ highly successful methods of civil disobedience and generating chaos. While novels such as Ender's Game utilize child geniuses, in other novels they are often trained by adults and are able to function as adults in an adult society, rather than being the only characters aware of reality.
The novel poses intriguing ideas, but, though conceptualized from US and British surveillance systems and government agencies, it paints an almost comical picture of adult ignorance (without the satire seen in novels like Catch-22). This may appeal to young teens, but will detract from the reading experience of a broader audience or more discerning young adult, particularly given this is meant to be set around 2007 (or in the present), rather than in a future where numerous social, political, and economic forces have changed mindsets and society (as in 1984 and V for Vendetta). ( )
  Ailinel | May 1, 2015 |
Cory Doctorow's Little Brother raises an alarm about our modern surveillance society--a topic that has gained greater relevance with the NSA revelations--but 1984 it ain't. The book is billed as YA fiction, and I may be incapable of judging YA, but with its oversimplicity and lack of subtlety, it just wasn't very good. Doctorow admits in a foreward that he hammered out the novel in just a few months. That's nothing to brag about. He should have spent more time.

Here are just a couple of my objections:

The hero of the book, as might be expected in a YA story, is a 17-year-old. When a terrorist attack in San Francisco leads the Dept of Homeland Security to implement draconian measures, including kidnapping and imprisoning teenagers (even torturing them), it is our hero Marcus and a group of his peers who are left to "fight the good fight." Adults are relatively worthless in the struggle--so much so that Marcus' movement adopts the slogan to "Don't Trust Anyone Over 25." A computer hacker. Marcus uses his skills to organize a resistance movement. His fight is for individualism, privacy, and personal freedom.

My own experience, however, is that in the fight to preserve personal privacy and freedom, it is precisely the adults who are in the forefront. Young people seem more-than-willing to surrender their privacy over social media. Moreover, if the DHS started rounding up innocent citizens in its effort to isolate terrorists, the adults I know would be raising holy hell.

Moreover, the DHS villains and their superiors are caricatures. The face of evil is the President's Chief of Staff who is quoted as saying no one will care what the DHS does in San Francisco because it's just filled with queers anyone. In the real world, evil doesn't triumph because it presents a snarling face, but because it presents a soothing, seductive one.

Doctorow also takes the unusual step of using the beginning of each chapter to honor a bookseller he admires. Among those he salutes is Amazon. Really? A book about the importance of personal privacy celebrates Amazon, which compiles a tremendous database about the habits of his customers? As is the case with sharing so much personal info over social media. I guess letting someone else know all about you is OK if it is a mega-corporation, rather than the government (which likely is tapped into the Amazon database anyway).

I guess there's a book there that's yet to be written. ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
I've heard of this more than once - told myself I'd try to read it if it fell into my hands.... Well, it did, at a bookcrossing meeting, and though I'm thankful that I had the chance, I just could not get into it at all. The attitude of the MC was such a huge turn-off for me I couldn't get past that into the story at all. Also, I don't like dystopias. Seems like a winner for a lot of folks, though - probably a big hit in school libraries. I will ship this bookcrossed hardcover gratis (within the US).
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
I haven't spent much time with YA fiction since I was one a couple of (OK, three) decades ago, but I'd recommend Little Brother to the average teen. Regardless of genre or forum, Cory Doctorow writes passionately about net freedom, privacy, and creativity. Big Brother is a(n unfortunately only slightly) dystopian tale set in the near-future in the U.S. where security has trumped privacy rights and features a Department of Homeland Security run amok in its reaction to a terror attack on San Francisco. The main character is a teen boy and his few friends -- to include strong, capable female characters, good and bad -- who use their wits and technical tricks to expose injustice and free the wrongly detained. It's fast-paced and, at times, even educational. Some reviewers complain that Cory spends a little too much time educating, but I think it's perfect for those who aren't familiar with some of the subject matter, like encryption, RFID, and internet protocol to name a few; those who "know" already know, so Cory could come off as overly pedantic with that audience. Cory's message about the slow erosion of freedom in the U.S. in the name of security is an important one and, I would presume, he's a minority voice in the YA lit sphere. We need more writers like him. The only parental warning I'll throw out is that the main character, Marcus, loses his virginity in the story, but there are no "mechanics" of the event described; I'll just say the parties were protected and it was about as innocent an event as could be portrayed. "It" happened and the story moved on..it wasn't glamorized and no special insight was given that would drive your YA reader into doing.."it." A fun, consistently engaging read and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, "Homeland." All of Cory's books are free to download at www.craphound.com. If you get something out of them, do him a solid and buy some (or a lot) of copies for school libraries near you. ( )
  traumleben | Mar 1, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 311 (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 (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cory Doctorowprimary authorall 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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For Alice, who makes me whole
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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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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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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