Now that's an important book! Cory Doctorow is such an amazing public figure to me, making his works available online for free, encouraging online readers to have a go at changing the text, serving as European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. His written works mirror his life in so many ways. I once read another reviewer's (Ruby Tomstone's) comparison of the depictions of technology by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross (in [b:Halting State|222472|Halting State|Charles Stross|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1232769480s/222472.jpg|930563]). She felt that Stross put forward a fearful world made more dangerous by technology, while Doctorow presents technology as empowering opportunity and hackers as heroes. I agree with Ruby, and would much prefer living in Doctorow's universe any day.
And I absolutely LOVE the debates on "what is terrorism?" and "when does security cross the line into totalitarianism?" running throughout a book geared toward young adults. Here's a sample of Doctorow's thoughts on terrorism as told through the mind of main character and hacker Marcus:
I'd never really believed in terrorists before--I mean, I knew that in the abstract there were terrorists somewhere in the world, but they didn't really represent any risk to me. There were millions of ways that the world could kill me--starting with getting run down by a drunk burning his way down Valencia--that were infinitely more likely and immediate than terrorists. Terrorists kill a lot fewer people than bathroom falls and accidental electrocutions. Worrying about them always struck me as about as useful as worrying about getting hit by lightning.
The conversations about the Constitution, spying on and torturing U.S. citizens take on heightened significance for me in the wake of Edward Snowden's blowing the whistle on the NSA's massive phone monitoring and data collection practices. I classified Little Brother
as dystopian, among other things. But can it be considered dystopian when our leaders are already involved in monitoring on a much larger scale than in Doctorow's universe, and when our government calls for drone strikes against U.S. citizens? Little Brother
becomes more like realistic fiction every day. Interesting times my friends, and Doctorow gives us the perfect story for now. We need to be massive pains in the asses of our government officials. They're out Orwelling Orwell!
Aside from awkward melodrama between some of the characters (Marcus, Ange, and Van in particular) and a strange confusion about The name of Marcus' mother--on the same page, she's introduced as Louisa by Marcus, and then calls herself Lillian a paragraph later--I don't have any meaningful complaints. An important read for our times!