Bibliographic information: Little Brother. Cory Doctorow. Tor Teen, 2008. $17.95. 382p. ISBN-13: 9780765319852.
Summary: Seventeen year old w1n5t0n, aka Marcus, is a techno-geek. If it deals with technology, he can do it. He and a few of his friends like to play live action role-playing games (LARP). So, when he discovers a clue that needs to be examined, he immediately plots his escape from school. Not a very hard thing to do for Marcus, it’s just a matter of putting rocks in his shoes to get past the gait-recognition security and he is home free. Him and a friend sneak off campus and meet up with their two other friends for the clue. Except while cracking down on the clue, there is a bombing on the bridge close by and then everybody goes into panic mode and everything become chaotic. While everybody is trying to get to safety, Marcus’s friend is stabbed in the side, so they run outside for help. They wave down a military car and instead of getting help Marcus and his friends are all impounded and accused of being the bombers. And that’s just the start of it all.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 13 and up IL: 8 grade and up
Review: Science fiction just got a lot better. No spaceships and aliens, or alternate realities and new worlds, just a megaton of technology and a techno-geek named w1n5t0n, aka Marcus. Marcus is an extremely intelligent guy when it comes to all things technology. He can evade school security, confuse gait-recognition cameras, and hack into just about any computer. This book is every computer nerds dream. The vocabulary consists of a lot of technological jargon that you may or may not understand, but makes for a really interesting read and oddly enough the story is still easy enough to follow and quite entertaining. After being held captive for a crime they didn’t do, Marcus and his friends try to make a political statement that will disrupt the government’s safety tactics and hopefully improve upon them so there are fewer mistakes. Doctorow writes about what he knows and in doing so has created a riveting story that will capture the minds of young readers of the digital native generation who are familiar with computers and technology.
Readers’ annotation: Marcus and his friends are wrongfully arresting and accused of being terrorist, so he fights back at the government with technology.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: Some children may be feeling wrongfully abused by their school having an excess amount of surveillance on the premises. They may know that it is for their security, but that does not mean they do not feel like their privacy is being intruded upon. This book will show them that they are not alone, however they should refrain from trying anything against the law. Teens that are techno-geeks will feel right at home inside the pages of this book.
Issues present: Child abuse is one of the biggest issues. Marcus and his friends are taken in and treated as criminals for no reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are not abused, humiliated and punished without cause by Homeland Security and since they were under the age of 18, they would be considered children and their parents should have been call or notified, but they were not. No parent would stand for this, it is blatant child abuse. Also, this book can be seen as propaganda against the government and they might take offense to that. But it would create great social studies discussion as well as discussion of ethics and it is a work of fiction and it teaches our children about politics and their government, as well as some technology.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Marcus’s character. – pg 1
Marcus has just been detained and held for being a terrorist.
Do you feel safe from your government?
Genre or subject: Science fiction: technology, government, abuse, security
Readalikes: Jennifer Government, Hunger Games, Tomorrow when the war began, Rag and Bone Shop
Author’s website: http://craphound.com/
Awards: Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (2009), Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2008), Locus Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Book (2009), Sunburst Award for Young Adult (2009), John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (2009) Emperor Norton Award (2008), Prometheus Award for Best Novel (2009), Sakura Medal Nominee for High School Book (2010), Florida Teens Read Nominee (2009), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2013), White Pine Award for Best Canadian Young Adult Novel (2009)
Reviews: School Library Journal: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6628699.html; Kirkus Review: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/cory-doctorow/little-brother-2/; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7653-1985-2; Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Little-Brother-Cory-Doctorow/pid=2578479
Why I chose it: Doctorow knows what the is talking about, he is knowledgeable in the things he writes about, and he understands teens. I love how there is so much techno-jargon and then they use something as simple as rocks in their shoes to elude the gait detection cameras. Love it!