Earlier this year, I told the World about the book Little Brother, written by Cory Doctorow. Leif wrote in to let me know he had read the book, and wanted to share his book report with all of you. Following is what he had to say.
The book Little Brother (by Cory Doctorow) takes place in a slightly different present-day San Fransisco, in the middle of the war on terror. The title is a play on the book, 1984, by George Orwell, in which the Big Brother lead the government, and was always watching you. There is high security, and even students are watched closely by the administration. After a terrorist bombing, Marcus Yallow, a high school student, and his friends, are taken captive by the Department of Homeland Security, accused of planting the bombs which destroyed the Bay Bridge. After being released, Marcus and his friends return home to find that their city’s security has been raised to unreasonable heights. Marcus decides to fight back, and regain the city.
Marcus Yallow (aka w1n5t0n-pronounced Winston) is a high school student. He’s very good with computers, and bright, to say the least. His friends, Darryl, Jolu, Van, and Ange help him in the story. Their goal in the story is to fight for their own rights, endowed by the Constitution. Their enemy, know as “sever haircut lady,” is an operative of the Department of Homeland Security. She interrogates and tortures Marcus, and fuels his need to stop the injustice that takes place in his city.
The main conflict in this story is between Marcus and the DHS. The DHS humiliated him while he was in captivity with no real evidence that he was a terrorist, and violated his rights as an American Citizen. Throughout the story, marcus is working against the government to regain his rights, set things straight, and punish the person who held him captive. He sets up a network of activists, and leads a group of them against the government. Marcus is taken hostage by the DHS once again, and this time is tortured. Luckily, state troopers save Marcus while he is strapped down, subject to water board torture. The DHS eventually leaves the state, and after going to court, Marcus is only charged with petty theft after stealing someone’s phone, for his own safety. He wins the fight against the Department of Homeland Security, but his torturer, Carrie Johnstone, gets off with no charge at all, even with video proof that she subjected a high school student to water board torture. He makes a video about what it means the be in this country, about his experiences, and about what should happen to people like “severe haircut lady.”
I think the moral of this story is that we have fundamental rights, that cannot be challenged. The Bill of Rights is something that the founders of our country intended to use as the defining principal of the United States, that is, freedom. If we are denied these basic privelages as people, we should not stand for it. Throughout the story, the argument is echoed: we deserve to be free. When Marcus’s teacher was fired from her job for generating a discussion about freedom and how a government should treat its people, she was arrested. She was replaced with a new teacher, from the government. She refused to talk about such issues, denying free speech. This destroys opinion, which is wrong.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys healthy discussion, and geeky writing. Please, note that “geeky” is not at all a bad thing. The book is filled with internet references and is great for someone who understands them. I was recommended this book by Chris Pirillo… a “professional geek.” The writer, Cory Doctorow, is a writer on one of the biggest blogs on the web, Boing Boing. This book has a great influence from the internet, and civil rights associated with it. I am very interested in such matters, and anyone who is should read this book.