Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Digital Audiobook narrated by Kirby Heyborne
Published by Listening Library on April 29th 2008
Series: Little Brother #1
Genres: Dystopia, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen, Young Adult
Length: 382 pages or 11 hours, 54 minutes
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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.
Ughhh Little Brother. How I hated you.
I’m not just trying to be a jerk about it, but the main character Marcus was exactly the type of person I despise. I hate reading about characters like him with their “F— the government, don’t trust anyone over 25, I do what I want” attitude. Especially the type that turn into pathetic worms at the slightest sight of danger. There are situations in this book – bad situations, given – that Marcus handled so badly. I couldn’t even feel bad for him because he was such a little asshole and I’m a cynical jerk all I could think was, “oh good PLEASE keep him in jail another day!” I fervently disagree with the behavior of the government body highlighted in this book, and I still wanted Marcus & Co. to lose. That’s how unlikable they are.
I very rarely get so annoyed by books I yell over the narrator. But seriously. This kid is stupid. I could list all the stupid things he does, but that would spoil the book? Everything works, though. Because this is a YA Dystopia, so hey, happily ever afters for everyone!
If you don’t want to know every intimate detail about technology, you won’t like this book.
Doctrow wants to tell you about cryptography. And networking. And MY GOD EVERYTHING. I actually have a decent handle on computer science already – at least to the extent he explains it – so not only was this really, really boring, but it started to feel a bit condescending. There were instances when something was mentioned in the smallest frame of reference and then we’d get to sit through PAGES of explanation and back story.
As if I didn’t care enough about the characters already, now the WRITING is boring.
The plot is super unoriginal.
Let me know if you’re heard this before: rebel kids skip school, get in trouble, and are blamed for a terrorist plot. No? Me neither! Here’s a closer look at the plot: Angsty teens go to jail after bombing, are insolent and suspicious, get out of jail and start running around and building anarchy. Sounds a little less original now. Throw in a bunch of naive, self-serving adults and repeated references of the main character calling himself AND his girlfriend a “horn dog” and eventually my eyes start to hurt from how much they are rolling.
Okay, guys, I just really didn’t like this book?
I get the point he is trying to get across about surveillance and control via tracking… and how too much government interference can be bad. I’ve seen it referred to as a toned-down 1984… I’d disagree. 1984 is a slice, well thought out, and you eventually want to team up with Winston but not with Marcus? Because Marcus is an ass. All the tiebacks to 1984 are name drops and super forced.
ALSO. In the summary and the first couple chapters of the book, Doctrow puts SO MUCH EMPHASIS on the fact that Marcus’ handle is w1n5t0n, i.e. “Winston” as in 1984. FUN FACT. This is totally irrelevant to the rest of the book and he drops that handle almost immediately.
GAH. Just… bleh. I don’t like this book, and I don’t recommend it unless you’re looking for something angry, political, sensational with REALLY AWKWARD teen sex scenes? IF you are, enjoy. All yours.