“Little Brother” by Cory Doctorow (TOR, 2008)

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With the end of the Bush presidency, some may be forgetting those times, with the war on terror, the propaganda of fear; while others may still be living and experiencing the horrors perpetrated by the Department of Homeland Security.  In Little Brother, Cory Doctorow gives his response, in his own, unique, techie way.

Marcus is a seventeen year old boy who seems ordinary in many ways.  He’s a nerd who plays MMOs with his friends, and is a computer geek who can hack his way in just about anything.  He’s essentially the exact sort of person the Department of Homeland Security and the government wants to be watching and trying to catch committing any illegal activity.  Then the whole world changes, as a devastating terrorist attack is committed in San Francisco, the Bay Bridge blown to pieces, sending thousands to their deaths.  Marcus finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, trying his best to get away from the horror and devastation; but the Department of Homeland Security thinks otherwise, capturing him and his friends and taking them to Treasure Island close by; a place that comes to be known as “Gitmo by the Bay.”  After three days of interrogation and being horribly treated, Marcus is freed, after being forced to sign a contract and the promise that he is never to utter a word of his incarceration and experience to anyone. Marcus finds himself in a different world where the DHS is in control and watching everyone.  It’s a world of fear and suspicion.  It’s not a place of freedom and free speech anymore.  Marcus plans on trying to change that and bring back the country he knows and loves.

Doctorow does what he does best in Little Brother, providing a riveting story with lots of computer tech and Internet shortcutting, making the reader wonder how much of this is possible, and how much the government is really watching.

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Originally published in the Sacramento Book Review.

Originally written on July 24 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.

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