The Book Bird

My name is Nicole and I'm an aspiring editor. This is my place to review books and record my progress in reading. I mostly review YA books, with some others thrown in occasionally.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Marcus, otherwise known as “w1n5t0n”, is just a seventeen-year-old boy living in San Francisco. But this normal boy leads another life on the internet as a mastermind of technology. An expert at finding ways to exploit flaws in security, Marcus knows how to work the system. Marcus is a celebrity online, until the Bay Bridge is bombed by terrorists. He and his friends are mistaken for terrorists by the Department of Homeland Security and are taken into custody. Interrogated for days, the teenagers are forced to prove that they are not terrorists to the very people who are supposed to protect his country. After the panic from the bombing throws San Francisco into a police state, he decides it is his duty to take down the DHS himself.

Do I recommend this book? Yes. Was it very good? Not really. Little Brothers talks about some very important and relevant ideas, like the importance of privacy as the internet grows and what terrorism really is, but if I were to use one word to describe it, it would be… heavy handed. Excessive amounts of time is spent discussing the reasons the main character feels the way he does, but that isn’t really necessary and there isn’t a lot of subtlety to the message. Despite that, though, Little Brother was truly fascinating for someone who is interested in technology at all. The methods the main character uses to achieve his goals are based on fact, and I found myself doing further research into the topics that were discussed. Even though the writing was often kind of weak, my interest in the plot made it easy for me to get into the book and I was able to overlook some things. And the writing was rough at best. Apparently, Cory Doctorow is incapable of writing a strong female character. There were two girls in the story, discounting adult characters who don’t really get developed, and neither of them had any kind of depth to their characters. The main character’s girlfriend’s personality was described but I just didn’t see any of that in her actions. The main character goes on and on about how adventurous and awesome she is, but the only way I saw that was when she used strong hot sauce on her burrito. Admittedly, it was very strong hot sauce, but I wasn’t seeing what Marcus was seeing. The other female character had me smacking my head in all of her scenes. She was like the literary embodiment of your recently divorced, misogynistic, drunk uncle at Thanksgiving’s idea of women. Even though Marcus has supposedly been friends with her his entire life, she is played as a crazy emotional bitch who is a coward and is just jealous of the marvelous Marcus, her one true love. While reading her final scene I was laughing out loud at the absurdity. If only she had been written better, she might have been one of my favourite characters. And Little Brother often gets just that - absurd. It starts to sound like, “As I made out with this super-hot chick, I contemplated the importance of the constitution as the United States navigates the so-called ‘War on Terror’ and planned my next blog post that millions of kids will read.” If the author hadn’t been so caught up in trying to make his character cool, the quality of the writing would have caught up to the quality of the ideas presented in Little Brother.


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