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Big Brother, Meet Little Brother

Little Brother - Cory DoctorowTITLE:Little Brother

AUTHOR: Cory Doctorow

LENGTH: 416 pages

SUMMARY: (via amazon.com) 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.

BRIDGE: This book would be excellent paired with Orwell’s 1984, as the title suggests. The amount of government “spying” alone would make it a good companion/comparison. It would also be useful in comparing Orwell’s vision of a government state at the time he was writing versus Doctorow’s vision in a more modern setting. In addition, one could use passages to mentor technical writing. Doctorow does quite a bit of description of the technology Marcus is using in trying to bring down the DHS. It would be a good exercise in making technical description more approachable. In addition, one could use Doctorow’s writing to mentor complex sentence structure. It would also be a good glimpse into the mind of a semi-paranoid narrator. Ultimately, this book could generate excellent discussion of privacy matters versus “national security”.

READERS: This book is perfect for gamers and those readers who are self-proclaimed tech-geeks. The discussion of online, computer, and video games alone would enthrall techies. Also, readers who tend to be conspiracy theorists would enjoy Marcus’s evaluation of San Francisco’s devolution into a military state. This book would probably appeal to males more than females but girl-gamers would be interested. And the story is engaging enough to keep non-gamers reading.

OTHER TITLES: Readers who enjoyed this book would also enjoy Feed by M.T. Anderson, The Uglies books by Scott Westerfeld, or The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.

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