Little Brother (Published by Tor Teen) is the story of Marcus, an internet-savvy seventeen-year-old who’d rather ditch class and play augmented reality games than deal with the bullies and uptight administrators at his school all day. When he meets his friends in San Francisco to work out a new puzzle game, they find themselves in the worst possible place at the worst possible time. Caught in a terrorist attack that throws the city into chaos, the teens are taken into custody by Homeland Security as possible suspects. Locked away without a way to contact legal advice or their families, they are questioned for days before being released with strict instructions to remain silent about their experiences.
Marcus is a sharp young man, and the way he responds to his treatment makes this story remarkable. The attack on his town turns out to be just the beginning of his incredible adventures, and there are many fascinating characters he meets along the way. There are a lot of things to learn about security and privacy in this book, and I have been recommending it to everyone lately. As a warning, there are some mature themes included, so I’d suggest reading it yourself before letting a younger teen read it. Decide if it is appropriate, or if some of the content should be discussed before reading. You should know what your kids are ready to handle, and it’s better to have the conversations before problems arise.
This story sucked me in to a very timely and frightening glimpse of what our world could become. Marcus and his friends felt like real kids full of the worries and complexities we all face daily, even in the middle of an incredible crisis. Cory Doctorow’s rich storytelling and insights had me thinking deeply about this story and what our country has been struggling with for years now. There are a lot of conversations we (as a country) need to have about security, and lots of better answers we need to find.
One of the many things I love about this book is the fact you can read it for free. Cory Doctorow makes many of his books, writing and interviews available in multiple formats and in a wonderful array of languages on his website. There’s also great information there about the best places to buy his books, including signed copies, so check there first if you want to order one for yourself or a friend. They also have a way to donate copies of his books to libraries that have requested them. Here’s a link to Donate Little Brother. I’ve read most of the books available on this site, and I really enjoyed every one. If you enjoy compelling stories and real characters, give Little Brother a read.
Can you think of a book that really made you think about something in a new way? Share your recommendations in the comments below.