Little Brother – By Cory Doctorow

Posted by Lawrence:

Little Brother is the story of a group of teenagers living in San Francisco who, after being caught in the middle of a devastating terrorist attack on their city, are arrested and brutally interrogated by their own government. Though they are eventually released, they soon realise that the basic human rights they once took for granted have been stripped away by an overzealous Department of Homeland security. Led by 17 year-old tech-whizz Marcus Yallow, the group decide to fight back using the only means left to them, the Internet. (Dum Dum DUMM! It sounds a bit ridiculous when I put it like that. I don’t mean that they do lame stuff like changing their Facebook statuses to “really angry with the government” or going on a Twitter rant. They are computer geniuses.)

The influence of George Orwell’s novel 1984 can be seen strongly throughout the novel. Even the title itself is a clear reference to the tyrannical Big Brother in Orwell’s classic. Like Orwell, Doctorow preaches a dislike and mistrust of governments that attempt to stretch the boundaries of their mandate (in Layman’s terms: the president literally getting all up in your business – not literally.) There is also clear criticism of the Bush administration and the actions it took after 9/11.

Wait – this review is in danger of becoming too political, and NO ONE wants that. I think I will focus more on the well-written characters and Doctorow’s insightful vision of the Internet and technology in the not too distant future.

Marcus is a great central character. Flawed, in his impulsive and at times obsessive behavior, but highly driven and open with the reader. Through him, Doctorow has a legitimate outlet for his futuristic technological ideas. Such is Marcus’s enthusiasm for the technology that he uses, he frequently pauses mid action to explain to the reader exactly how they work. Online gaming has advanced significantly in this future and it is through this community that the central characters are able to take on the government. The novel is almost a rallying cry to the tech geeks and gamers. Doctorow sees the real power with them in the future as the reach of the Internet and technology grows rapidly.

But wait! What if one of them (30+ year old parent’s house dwellers) decides that they want to use this power for control in the future like the government. Think about what you are doing Doctorow! Think of the children!

I apologise – I went political again. The subject matter of this great book just gets me riled up. I will finish by saying that this is fantastic YA fiction and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is even slightly technologically inclined. If you are not, then I recommend that you read it anyway and educate yourself.


Read This Book…
Wearing a homemade tin foil hat to stop those damn communists and the government stealing your thoughts.


This book is a … Travels in Time / Young Minds


Genre: YA Fiction
Paperback ISBN: 9780007288427
ebook ISBN: 9780007505999


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If you liked this, then you’ll love…
Try some more  Cory Doctorow with Down and Out in the Magic KingdomNeuromancer by William Gibson and The Robots series by Isaac Asimov.