August 10, 2008

Little Brother

I read Cory Doctorow's Little Brother yesterday. It's nominally for young adults, but it's really for anyone who's appalled at the security theater the US government has been practicing since 9/11. Doctorow spent a few years working for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, so it's no surprise he's chosen privacy issues as a theme for this book.

It's centered around a 17-year-old high school student named Marcus, who, together with his buddies Van, Darryl and Jolu, is in the midst of a Geocaching-type game in San Francisco when the Bay Bridge and the underwater BART tunnel are blown up by terrorists. The kids are picked up by a very nervous crowd of Homeland Security agents, who are sure that Marcus and his friends were part of the attack because of all the electronic gear (wi-fi, RFID identifiers) they're carrying. They're held for five days before being released.

Once out, Marcus discovers that the city is basically under security lockdown by DHS, and that its surveillance is everywhere. Being a rebellious teenager with a hacker's mentality, he doesn't like this and decides to do something about it. He begins by manipulating some existing XBox code into a sub-rosa subdivision of the Internet, gathering like-minded kids to him as he goes. Eventually he becomes a reluctant leader of a movement to fight back against the Federal government's anti-terror paranoia as manifested in security cameras, keystroke capture devices, wiretapping, and crowd dispersal.

It gets a little techno-geeky in spots, but not so much that it's impenetrable, and it's a darned good story along the way.

Here are reviews from Library Thing members.

I recommend it highly; it will make you think.

Posted by Linkmeister at August 10, 2008 08:10 AM | TrackBack