25 May 2008

Little Brother

Little Brother
Cory Doctorow

Whoo! Class is over! I mean, I liked it a lot, but now I can write about things that aren't comics!

So it's been, like, a month, and I return triumphant, having been out of school for a week and a half and back in the workforce for a day total. Not that I started working just today. It's Memorial Day weekend. That'd be silly. No, I started yesterday at my regular summer job at the local bookstore, a glorious Nirvana if ever there was one. Well, at least in that incredibly-materialistic-I-love-books-not-Nirvana-at-all kind of a way.

Anyway, one of the perks of my job is that we've got a whole table full of advanced reading copies of books all stacked up in the back room at the store. They come, they sit around, sometimes they get read. As an employee, I get to take home any of these books that I'd like, a policy that I take liberal--sometimes absurd--advantage of. To start things off, I found a couple of books that looked interesting and wafted them away with me, and one was Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow.

Now, I had a copy of Little Brother already. I downloaded it in PDF from Cory Doctorow's website, because that's the sort of thing he likes. And I suppose I proved part of his point in doing this, because did it stop me wanting a print copy? No! Reading long books on the computer sucks. Trust me, I know this for a fact. I've been known to spend days at a time on Project Gutenberg and come out, more well-read, but with a splitting fucking headache. Man, seriously. You have no idea of the pain. ...well, probably you do. Not relevant. Whatever.

So, I started on the book this morning. Finished it this evening. It's a quick read. Partially that may be because it's a YA book and thus was written more simply than I'm used to, but I wouldn't really buy that as a full excuse. Mainly it took me so little time because I couldn't put it down. Well, ok, I put it down to drive to the movie theatre and watch Prince Caspian, but those were special circumstances. A Narnia movie was available to me. Far be it for me to not indulge myself in a personal childhood obsession.

I'm babbling. It was a great book. It's solid, and scary, and it doesn't talk down to anyone. If Marcus (the narrator) says something weird, he explains himself, and he does it well. The tech was real (or realistic, if not all strictly real), the hacks were definitely real, and the story was real in a way that warmed a diffident dissident like myself to the core. I finished the book and it made me want to poke around online for hacks for my PSP. (Yes, I own a PSP. And a DS. Consumer whore? Maybe so. But mainly I like games.) But seriously, for gods' sake, this kid takes out Homeland Security with an Xbox! That's a glorious feat!

Neil Gaiman says in his wonderful blurb that he wants to get this into the hands of every thirteen-year-old he knows, in the hopes that it'll change the way they think for the better. I agree. Shit, I want to give copies of this book to my cousins. Then when they take over the planet they'll remember me as the person who showed them the way.

Have I not let out the basic plot yet? Well, here. Hacker kid in San Francisco is near the site of a terrorist attack, gets arrested by Homeland Security and interrogated, and then is released into a USA that's like Franz Kafka had a baby with George Orwell's worst nightmare. So he decides to do something about it using only a hacked Xbox and pure, unadulterated rage.

It's super cool. I feel the need to program now. Actually, I think I need to go take a look around, see if anyone's programmed a Clockwork Pirates game yet.

Read this book. Give it to your kid sister and every single one of her friends. If they don't want to buy it and you don't want to lend it to them, get them to Cory Doctorow's website and have them download a copy. If they don't have Internet access and can't have the book, read it to them, over the phone if necessary. Spread it like a plague. Spread it like an Internet meme.

This book kicks ass.

No comments: