Little Brother

Little BrotherLittle Brother by Cory Doctorow. Tor Teen (an imprint of MacMillan Publishers), 2008. 416 pages. Recommended for ages 13-17. ISBN: 9780765323118.

Originally posted on Kid Lit About Politics.

Little Brother isn’t exactly science fiction. It could happen now. The story is told by Marcus, a 17-year-old expert hacker living in San Francisco. He and three of his friends skip class to go and play a game one Friday afternoon. There is an explosion. A bridge, we later learned it’s the Bay Bridge, has been blown up by terrorists. Marcus flags down what he thinks is an emergency vehicle to help one of his friends who has been injured. The vehicle belongs to the Department of Homeland Security. Marcus and his friends have sacks put over their heads. He and two friends are held for five or six days, then released. The fourth friend, Darryl, is not released. While in custody, Marcus struggles to maintain his rights under the Bill of Rights. Eventually, he gives up and tells the DHS what they want to know about him.

When Marcus returns to San Francisco, he finds the DHS is watching every person’s movements in an attempt to prevent another terrorist attack. His father, who has no idea that his son was imprisoned, thinks this invasion of privacy is fine. Marcus doesn’t, and neither do the thousands of kids he involves in his attempts to stop the DHS.

The political issues raised are very timely. When is it appropriate to give away our civil liberties in the name of preventing terrorism, and when should we fight for those civil liberties? Should congressional or judicial oversight of organizations like the DHS be in place, or should they be able to operate freely. Is it right to hold people without telling them why, and without telling their families where they are? Is it right to torture people? In this country, are people still innocent until proven guilty? These are the questions Little Brother raises.

The book has too much explanation of technology for me, but technology geeks would love the explanations. I am a political geek, and I love the political aspects of the book.

It’s clear Doctorow doesn’t know San Francisco well. The most glaring error is the constant reference to BART as “the BART.” I got pulled out of the story a little bit every time he referenced “the BART.”

With the exception of the long paragraphs about technology, this book is fun, and the political issues are even more pressing now than they were when the book was written in 2008.

Blog Reviews:

Fantasy Book Critic
Nerdy Book Club
Prometheus Unbound
Strange Horizons

Professional Reviews:

Kirkus
Publisher’s Weekly

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This entry was posted in Books and tagged , , , , by Liz Parrott. Bookmark the permalink.

About Liz Parrott

I love the Kid Lit community: the authors, the illustrators, the editors, the teachers, the librarians. I love the blogs, the listservs, the twitter feeds and the pinterest boards. I'm in the process of creating the Kid Lit Navigator. I'm hoping this website will be a reference tool for navigating the Kid Lit world. I have a second project, Kid Lit About Politics, which isn't getting the attention it deserves these days. All my time is going into Kid Lit Navigator. Kid Lit About Politics combines my love children's and YA literature and my love politics. It's a blog in which I review children's and YA lit about politics. I have a BA in English from Oberlin College and an MLIS from UC Berkeley. I worked for a time as a school librarian in a Montessori school.

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