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Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow’s novel Little Brother is a revolutionary story. Doctorow writes with a sharp sense of humor, but delivers a strong and powerful message. The main protagonist in the book, Marcus Yallow, is made easy to relate to and like. Little Brother tackles a sensitive topic: terrorist attacks. Doctorow managed to make the whole attack seem fairly realistic and acceptable towards readers.

The main theme of the novel is human rights. The book centers itself around the rights of liberty, free speech, and other unalienable rights. Doctorow introduces this theme gradually throughout the book, starting with Marcus’s school’s surveillance system. The system spies on the students through their SchoolBooks and monitors their locations with gait-recognition cameras. Then, when Marcus and his friends skip school, they are taken hostage by the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS transports them to a secret location to interrogate them – stripping their rights to privacy and treating them inhumanely. When Marcus is released, he finds that San Francisco citizens are all being denied their own personal rights, also. Marcus knows he has to fight back to get what’s rightfully his.

Human rights is a difficult theme to handle, but Doctorow does it quite well, knowing where to draw the line. These days, with new technology, the definition of human rights is getting fuzzier. Not many people really know how far their rights to privacy extend, or if they really do have the right to liberty. Doctorow’s book of a teenager and his friends fighting for their rights shows readers that you have to fight for freedom. You have to fight for privacy. You have to fight for your human rights. You must make them yours. Little Brother tells readers that your own rights are worth fighting for. Marcus says in the book: “I can’t go underground for a year, ten years, my whole life, waiting for freedom to be handed to me. Freedom is something you have to take for yourself.” (pg. 334) The theme of human rights book appeals to readers, contributing to the success of this revolutionary novel.

Many high school students, or just average citizens in general, can relate to this book. A lot of us feel like we’re being watched. Many teenagers are giving out their private information to people they don’t actually know. None of us are strangers to the Internet. Little Brother shows us that we do have power. That we can change things. One of the most inspiring parts in the story is when Marcus and Ange go to an outdoor concert and gathering. Trudy Doo gets up and makes a speech: “It's our goddamned city! It's our goddamned country. No terrorist can take it from us for so long as we're free. Once we're not free, the terrorists win! Take it back! You're young enough and stupid enough not to know that you can't possibly win, so you're the only ones who can lead us to victory! Take it back!” (pg. 192) She also says the infamous: “Don’t trust anyone over 25!” (pg. 191) quote that inspires many of the Xnetters. This really inspires high-schoolers in general, as they are the younger generation. They read this and they have a feeling that they can change things. And that America is their country. They can claim their personal rights as a human being. High school students can also relate to Marcus and his friends, as they are all in high school. They can understand his thoughts and actions. Anyone will feel inspired and changed after reading Little Brother.

Doctorow does a fair job, although some parts were a little unrealistic. In real life, the government’s influence on everyday life would most likely have not been that much. Cesar Chavez High (Marcus’s high school) would most likely have not had such an intrusive surveillance system. The DHS’s harsh treatment and brutal torture is also very unlikely. Other than that, most of the plot was high believable, and you will find yourself cheering for Marcus and his band of followers every step of the way.

This book is an eye-opener and a thought-provoker. Doctorow writes about controversial subject matter and a difficult theme. A nice read. 4 out of 5 stars.



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