Little Brother by Cory Doctorow This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Little Brother
By Cory Doctorow


A teenage “rebel” living in a world where almost everything is supervised. What could be a more annoying existence? But it only gets worse. One day, Marcus cuts class to play a real life video game with his friends; he finds himself and his friends in a classical wrong-place-wrong-time scenario when a terrorist attack occurs.

The Department of Homeland Security picks them up and brings them to an unknown holding place where they are stripped of their rights and where there’s no one to contact. Needless to say, Marcus isn’t happy. When he is finally released, he finds that his home city, San Francisco, is being monitored more closely than ever, and one of his friends hasn’t come back.

Throughout the story, Marcus slowly finds ways to mess with the new, 1984 style of life. As he takes an anonymous online persona, he begins to gain a following of teenage rebels across the city and across the country. But when his groups begin to meet, the government steps in. Marcus has to deal with the fact that he has become a leader that he never wished to be has consequences. And when things become more serious, he has to make the right decisions in order to make the country back take back its values, or at least what Marcus believes them to be.

There are more than just techno-hipster geeks in the story. What it is at its heart is a struggle over privacy vs. safety. How much of your personal life are you willing to give the government in order to be safe from possible threats? Is life worth living if you have to go around being watched constantly and being approached by the government whenever you do something suspicious? This book brings that to the extreme, but some people would argue that this is the “not-so-distant future” or even that the US is already there. This book makes young adults have to take a side and think about what they believe in. It’s not an easy choice, but while reading this book, it’s impossible not to at least think about it.

Don’t get me wrong, this book isn’t all about politics. There are rock concerts, romance scenes, and mobs. While you would expect the exciting story to be distracting from the theme, it only makes it more prominent.

Little Brother is not oblivious to the world of technology either. While there are several made up technologies involved, they all have a root in some sort of innovation that we already have. For example, Doctorow spends two pages explaining the science and history of cryptology, the study of codes and ciphers, and then brings it up to the modern day version, this all in the lingo of seventeen year old geek. The story manages to excite, educate, and induce thought. It’s a techno-rebel version of a thriller, which makes it more exciting to some, while it may turn others off. It surely isn’t a novel for everyone, but for those who find themselves wishing to know about the world of cyber space or perhaps already know about it, this book can be more intriguing than most other stories.

This book has received the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, the Prometheus Award, the White Pine Award, and it was a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Novel. The author, being the techno-rebel he is, has made it available for free download on his website.





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