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Little Brother is Cory Doctorow's latest book. Anyone familiar with his earlier works, or his postings on boingboing should probably just go and get a copy, available from the Young Adult section of all good bookstores or freely downloadable here.

Little Brother is set in the very near future, and tells the story of Marcus, a 17 year old boy, who gets caught up in an authoritarian overreach by the DHS in the wake of a terrorist incident in San Francisco and his efforts to fight back. Like a lot of Cory's work, this book gets major points out of the blocks for pure neat technology bits. If you're already enthused or entertained by the use of ingenuity and smarts to defeat poorly thought out security and surveillance, you'll find yourself nodding along to a lot of the ideas in the book.

The plot ticks over at a reasonable pace, with occasional interruptions for infodumps. I have to admit that I skimmed past the infodumps for the most part, due to having a pretty thorough grasp of the technologies and activities detailed in them.

The book is unabashedly political. It pays homage to the anti-authoritarian movements in the Vietnam era, it features debates which allow the viewpoint character to make the good points while the defenders of authoritarianism resort to using their postions to quell debate, and it depicts the harms produced by an increasingly authoritarian system.

Many of the characters, and all of the pro-authoritarianism characters, felt faily one dimensional, with the pro-authoritarian characters feeling like straw men. None of the supporters of the authoritarian actions of the DHS is presented as anything except evil or misguided, with the strong implication that the misguided ones can easily be brought around once they're on the wrong end of the DHS.

I'd recommend this book with anyone who has political issues with abusive authoritarianism, anyone who likes a decently written Young Adult story, but mostly I'd recommend that anyone who knows a nerdish young kid get this book in their hands.

Anyone thats still interested in the book should head off now and download a copy. I'll be interested in everyone elses thoughts on it.

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mickyfinn

October 2008

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