Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Posted by amanda on Jun 8th, 2008
Jun 8

Markus is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He and his friends are hunting down a clue for their ARG (Alternative Reality Game – part real world scavenger hunt/part online roleplay), when terrorists blow up the Bay Bridge in San Fran. Markus who is tech savvy and into using his tech to get around school security is a suspect because of his encrypted cell phone and location during the attack. He and his friends are taken to a Dept. of Homeland Security(DHS) detention center where his unwillingness to cooperate (read knowledge of his legal rights coupled with some surly teenage angst) make him subject to torture and interrogation. Once released, Markus begins looking for secure ways to communicate via the Internet and becomes the leader of a movement to confuse the DHS who are cracking down and have everyone under surveillance.
2008, 382p.

This reminded me a bit of The Gospel According to Larry. Both being stories of a strongly principled teen guy who finds himself leading an Internet movement. Now, Little Brother was less funny than Larry and much more frightening. But both shared in the idea that online young people can be collective forces for change. Doctorow’s knowledge about computer security issues, the Internet’s history, and the hacker community all shine through to make this sci-fi feel very grounded and realistic. This would be grand on the high school reading list of an adventurous teacher – and a great read for the rest of us. I enjoyed the line from the teen hero that was something like – “If you don’t believe me, you can wikipedia it!”

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