blo Teens Read and Write: Little Brother

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Little Brother

Little Brother
by Corey Doctorow
pub: April 2008
384 pages

Marcus Yallow (aka w1n5ton) is a 17-year old high school senior living a care free life playing video games and writing programs with his friends in San Francisco. day he chooses the wrong day to cut school.

Marcus, his best friend Darryl and some other buddies ditch school to look for clues for their favorite ARG (Alternate Reality Game - they look for clues online as well as in the real world).

Suddenly BOOM! A huge explosion hits (you later find out it was the Oakland Bay Bridge blowing up) that sends the city into chaos.

Darryl is stabbed while they try to flag down help, and they all end up kidnapped by the government. Taken to a remote island, they suffer torture, must give up all their passwords and usernames and spend grueling hours in interrogation.

Eventually they're released but without Darryl. Marcus soon realizes that his city has become a police state where everyone is constantly watched by the DHS (Dept of Homeland Security). Marcus and friends decide to rebel against the government to save their city and their friend.

And that is where the fun stops. After the all the excitement and explosions wear off the rest of the book is slow paced and boring. I had to force myself to pick up the book and finish reading it. The only reason I did was because the book was due back to the library the next day.

The story starts turning into a political message about how to government overreacts to things and how the people are really in charge and blah blah blah. I watch the news. I read the paper. I'm informed. When I read, I want to be entertained... swept into a fantastic tale and away from the real world. I'm not looking for a head pounding political message in my fiction.

And, the whole point of the book was supposed to be kids fighting back using technology and secretly hacking into computers and breaking into secret facilities and save their friend! WRONG!

*Spoiler Alert*

Marcus finally confides in his parents who get him in touch with a reporter friend who helps expose all nefarious deeds. The justice system takes over and all is well. So 97.43% of what he did leading up to his talk with the reporter could have never happened and you would have gotten the same end result.

In the end they just use the media and lawyers and all that junk to get the bad guys. So while I was expecting them to hack into the governments secret files and infiltrate the place where their friend in being kept and single handedly expose the foul ways of the DHS, all I got was a half-baked ending.

* End of Spoiler Stuff *
Also, (aside from the main characters) there was little character development. Even his best friends stayed flat. In fact after they get out of the prison they're cast aside as if they didn't exist and magically appear in the last chapter after all the dust has cleared.

He does meet this one girl whom he shares a romantic relationship and is his constant companion throughout the rest of the book. But there were a lot of key characters that show up during his quest that are just like "Here's what I look like. Here's some important information. Okay bye-bye!"

The parts that were enjoyable were enjoyable. It was fun while it lasted but all in all it was just a political message wrapped in a clever disguise of teenage techno-geek rebellion.


Krista said...

Oh, sucks you didn't like it. There are just too many good ones out there, so I think I'll skip this one. Good luck with the next one!

Jake Kirk@Teens Read and Write said...

Krista - thanks. I'm reading a Dresden book now and he never goes wrong!

Eleni - Thanks for the award.I'll go check it out right now!

Jessica said...

Great review, Jake! I almost picked up this book because of the Gaiman and Westerfeld blurbs, but now I think I'll skip it.

Thanks for your honesty! :)

Ladytink_534 said...

Interesting premise so I'm a little disappointed that it didn't pan out :(

Jake Kirk@Teens Read and Write said...

Jessica - They'll try and get you with their fancy celebrity names! And your welcome.

Ladytink_534 - You and me both...

Tales of Whimsy said...

Oh I hate political messages in my fiction novels.
Excellent review.
Thanks for the heads up.

Misty said...

I felt the political message was a bit heavy handed, but I still loved this book. And I liked that an author was willing to get so political in a YA book, because a lot of adults act like teens won't understand or be interested in anything but themselves and romance.

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