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Little Brother [Hardcover]

Cory Doctorow
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 29 2008
Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.

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Little Brother + Homeland
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“A wonderful, important book…I’d recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I’ve read this year, and I’d want to get it into the hands of as many smart thirteen-year-olds, male and female, as I can. Because I think it’ll change lives. Because some kids, maybe just a few, won’t be the same after they’ve read it. Maybe they’ll change politically, maybe technologically. Maybe it’ll just be the first book they loved or that spoke to their inner geek. Maybe they’ll want to argue about it and disagree with it. Maybe they’ll want to open their computer and see what’s in there. I don’t know. It made me want to be thirteen again right now, and reading it for the first time.” —Neil Gaiman, author of Sandman and American Gods on Little Brother

“A rousing tale of techno-geek rebellion.” --Scott Westerfeld, author of Uglies, Pretties, and Specials, on Little Brother

“A worthy younger sibling to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother is lively, precocious, and most importantly, a little scary.” --Brian K. Vaughan, author of the graphic novel Y: The Last Man on Little Brother

“A tale of struggle familiar to any teenager, about those moments when you choose what your life is going to mean.” —Steven Gould, author of Jumper, on Little Brother

“A believable and frightening tale of a near-future San Francisco … Filled with sharp dialogue and detailed descriptions… within a tautly crafted fictional framework.” -Publishers Weekly starred review on Little Brother (Featured in PW Children’s e-newsletter)

“Readers will delight in the details of how Marcus attempts to stage a techno-revolution … Buy multiple copies; this book will be h4wt (that’s ‘hot,’ for the nonhackers).” -Booklist starred review on Little Brother (Selected as a Booklist “Review of the Day”)

“Marcus is a wonderfully developed character: hyperaware of his surroundings, trying to redress past wrongs, and rebelling against authority … Raising pertinent questions and fostering discussion, this techno-thriller is an outstanding first purchase.” -School Library Journal starred review on Little Brother

"Little Brother is generally awesome in the more vernacular sense: It's pretty freaking cool ... a fluid, instantly ingratiating fiction writer ... he's also terrific at finding the human aura shimmering around technology." -The Los Angeles Times on Little Brother

"Scarily realistic…Action-packed with tales of courage, technology, and demonstrations of digital disobedience as the technophile's civil protest." --Andrew “bunnie” Huang, author of Hacking the Xbox, on Little Brother

"The right book at the right time from the right author--and, not entirely coincidentally, Cory Doctorow's best novel yet." --John Scalzi, bestselling author of Old Man’s War, on Little Brother

“I was completely hooked in the first few minutes. Great work.” --Mitch Kapor, inventor of Lotus 1-2-3 and co-founder of the EFF, on Little Brother

“Little Brother is a brilliant novel with a bold argument: hackers and gamers might just be our country's best hope for the future.” --Jane McGonigal, designer of the alternate-reality game I Love Bees on Little Brother

Little Brother sounds an optimistic warning. It extrapolates from current events to remind us of the ever-growing threats to liberty. But it also notes that liberty ultimately resides in our individual attitudes and actions. In our increasingly authoritarian world, I especially hope that teenagers and young adults will read it—and then persuade their peers, parents and teachers to follow suit.” —Dan Gillmor, technology journalist, author of We the Media on Little Brother

“It’s about growing up in the near future where things have kept going on the way they’ve been going, and it’s about hacking as a habit of mind, but mostly it’s about growing up and changing and looking at the world and asking what you can do about that. The teenage voice is pitch-perfect. I couldn’t put it down, and I loved it.” —Jo Walton, author of Farthing on Little Brother

“Read this book. You’ll learn a great deal about computer security, surveillance and how to counter it, and the risk of trading off freedom for ‘security.’ And you’ll have fun doing it.” —Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media on Little Brother

“I know many science fiction writers engaged in the cyber-world, but Cory Doctorow is a native…We should all hope and trust that our culture has the guts and moxie to follow this guy. He’s got a lot to tell us.” --Bruce Sterling

“Cory Doctorow doesn't just write about the future--I think he lives there.” --Kelly Link, author of Stranger Things Happen

“Doctorow throws off cool ideas the way champagne generates bubbles...[he] definitely has the goods.” --San Francisco Chronicle

“Doctorow is one of sci-fi's most exciting young writers.” --Cargo Magazine

About the Author

Canadian-born Cory Doctorow is the co-editor of the popular blog BoingBoing. He is the author of the young adult novel For the Win, and his adult science fiction novels and short stories have won him three Locus Awards and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He has been named one of the Web’s twenty-five “influencers” by Forbes Magazine and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Techno Rebellion Feb. 4 2010
Terrorists have attacked San Francisco, and Marcus and his friends have ended up in prison. Although they had nothing to do with the attack, they are interrogated mercilessly and neglected in bare cells.

When Marcus is finally set free, he discovers that the Department of Homeland Security is abusing people's right to privacy and free speech all over the city.

Luckily, Marcus knows a lot about technology and surveillance - including how to stop it. But can he stop the Department of Homeland Security?

"Little Brother" has a scary, intriguing plot that feels very real. It teaches an important lesson about the value of privacy - something we all give up too easily these days. But it never comes across as didactic.

I love that the main character is a teenager who is capable of creating a secret internet. The only thing I didn't like about this book is that sometimes, the technological explanations went on a little too long, slowing the pace of the book.

Overall, an excellent read!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better that "young adults" would imply April 24 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a terrific novel! I loved it from the start and the ending left me wishing it were longer. Like Gibson's and Vinge's, Doctorow's latest is set in the frighteningly near future. And it is both full of the "now" -- like the bizarre power of Homeland Security and the insanity of ensuring security through abandonment of Constitutional rights -- and the then -- the Yippies, the Free Speech Movement, the murders in Philadelphia, MS, and Jane Jacobs.

I won't give away the plot, but if you know a reader from ~15 on up, this is for her or him.

Thank you, Cory!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Whose safety Nov. 4 2009
By Bernie Koenig TOP 500 REVIEWER
Natural Law, Science, and the Social Construction of Reality
Art Matters: The Art of Knowledge/The Knowledge of Art

The book says the reading level is young adult, but I am on old adult college professor and I found it just fine for me. The characters may be young adults but the theme is for everyone.

We meet our hero Marcus in high school where all kinds of security measures are in place. We are not told why they are needed. And, like all bright kids, such seemingly irrational use of authority must be challenged.

Then there is an explosion on the Bay Bridge. Marcus and his friends are caught in the crowd and, because they "look suspicious" homeland security arrests them as possible terrorists.

The book is then about how bright kids who are not afraid of authority and because they have been unjustly and badly affected by the abuse of power, find ways to challenge that power. Geeks that they are they finds ways of using computer game devices to communicate with each other so that the authorities cannot detect them.

Without going into too many details the book looks at the terrible abuse of power and how easily people who supposedly believe in freedom are prepared to give up that freedom to be protected from terrorists, which, of course, means that, without blowing anything else up, the terrorists win.

We also get some nice discussion of proper city planning when Marcus talks about Jane Jacobs, someone who has been a big influence on me during my years as a municipal activist, and we get a nice coming of age love story as well.

A really satisfying book that deals with really big issues.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Canadian SiFi June 4 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had never read this author and since reading Little Brother have read more of his books. It has also sparked an interest in cyber crime and modern computer video security.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A for Little Brother Dec 23 2011
Disclaimer: Reviews will mainly concentrate on novels that I enjoyed, and in writing them I will attempt to be succinct and to avoid all manner of spoilery comments. A grading guide follows my reviews. Also, please note that while I have read widely in the genre, my tastes are quite distinct and thus readers should absorb my wisdom with, at the very least, a few pinches of salt. Cheers.


Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Characterization: 8/10
Marcus Yallow is a creative, uncompromising, crafty, and courageous protagonist who is easy to root for. But it is his curiosity concerning all things technological that makes him so interesting for me. He is a wonderful narrator who manages to explain complex processes in a way that, miraculously, isn't boring. The secondary characters are fine, but it is the strength of Doctorow's main character that carries the narrative.

Plotting and Pacing: 3/5 and 4/5
Even before the main conflict begins, I was hooked. Why? I don't know, exactly. Marcus's conflict with, and evasion of, the school's surveillance equipment was certainly interesting. The rapid fire introduction of new-ish technologies, or at least new uses of existing technologies, also kept my curiosity well-fed. I'm not sure I quite believe the ending would have worked out as it did in the novel, but it was still a satisfying conclusion. Well paced and well plotted, except perhaps for the ending.

Setting: 7/10
The setting is a near-future version of San Fransisco. I have never been to San Fransisco, so I can't vouch for the setting's realism on that front.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars don't trade liberty for security - you'll end up with neither
A wonderful sci-fi - a fast read - but deeply thought provoking. Although it has garnered awards for the young reader - It has won 'adult' awards as well. Read more
Published 14 months ago by John Verdon
4.0 out of 5 stars Tech heavy! Nerd Candy!
Cory is a writer for the modern man. I love the robust and precise descriptions of all the technology in the comic. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2012 by B. Stevenson
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
Little Brother was the November book club pick here at Gin and Rhetoric, and I really wish that more people had participated in the conversation because this book is phenomenal. Read more
Published on Jan. 10 2012 by lexyvs
5.0 out of 5 stars Read and re-Read
It was going to be fun solving the next clue in Harajuku Fun Madness. Marcus, known online as w1n5t0n(Winston), met up with his friends in the San Francisco neighbourhood called... Read more
Published on Oct. 12 2011 by Heather Pearson
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too
LITTLE BROTHER presents a pretty scary picture of the way things could be if terrorist threats continue, and politicians keep funding the Department of Homeland Security with no... Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2011 by TeensReadToo
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary Warning
I received the book for Christmas so I started reading it just after the underwear bomber attempted to blow-up Delta Flight 253. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2010 by Mr. Temagami
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book.
I loved it! I got the same feeling in the pit of my stomach as when I first read 1984, and Animal Farm. Read more
Published on June 1 2009 by Ryan Sullivan
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book
Excellent book. Technologically relevant and accurate. Entertaining. A must read for any geek.
Published on Dec 19 2008 by Trevor Creech
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