Book: Little Brother
Author: Cory Doctorow
Simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus Yallow and his friends have been rounded up, imprisoned, and ruthlessly interrogated. Are they in Singapore? The Middle East?
No. They’re in the United States of America.
Caught in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, Marcus survives five days of "detainment" before he's let go. But the world he walks back into is more of a fascist state than a democratic nation. Everyone is monitored, everywhere, with the police pulling anyone with a slightly abnormal behavioral pattern in for questioning. Worse, civilians have given up personal freedoms willingly, in order to feel more safe.
Not Marcus. Within a day, he’s hacking an Xbox and setting up an underground Internet called the Xnet, spurring others to action in the name of retaking the freedoms they’ve lost to the War on Terror. But as the movement he’s created slips out of his control, he must constantly reevaluate his self-imposed mission. Where is the line between patriotism and terrorism? And who exactly is crossing it?
This is one of those books that you hear about all over place for months before it actually hits shelves. The back cover is crowded with blurbs from people who know what they’re talking about, all praising it to high heaven. Lucky for us, Doctorow really is that good. He even makes his periodic mini-lectures on hacking, computer tech, and civil disobedience history interesting.
Marcus is the kind of kid I’d be way intimidated by if I were in high school with him, both brilliant and independent. But taking the ride with him showed me the vulnerabilities as well as the strengths--the loss of friends, the betrayals of trust both public and personal, the fear, the self-doubt, the almost impossible uphill battle against the monolith, and finally, the inner core of love for his country that enables him to fight on.
This book should be required reading for every high school civics class, preferably in October or so. It’s a fast-paced, ferocious, terribly human tale about the rights, and more importantly, the responsibilities, of being an American.