book review: little brother

I waited a goodly while to read Little Brother, Cory Doctorow’s Hugo-nominated YA book from last year. More because of the YA-ishness, and also because I understand the political things the book is getting at and don’t need them fed to me in the form of fiction. But. I’m going to be the Teen specialist when I go back to the branch (word on the street is that will be no earlier than February 20th) so I figure I should read some YA books. I guess. The good thing is that Little Brother is pretty good.

There’s a terrorist attack in San Francisco and then the Department of Homeland Security comes in to quash the terrorists by quashing civil liberties and the right to privacy and all that. They set up a secret Gitmo-on-the-Bay where enemy combatants are held without trial. The hero of the story is a 17-year-old who gets caught up in the DHS security net and designs ways to fight back against it. Along the way there are authority figures who try to argue all is good in the name of security, a little bit of teen sex, adventure, waterboarding and manipulated newsmedia.

What it isn’t is subtle. The bad guys are very very bad, be they severe haircut lady from DHS or the vice-principal and his bully-snitch. I hated them. Immensely. It was weird how much of a reaction I had to the casual destruction of privacy and freedom to say stuff. It made my body angry. As I was reading I was flooded with these adrenalin surges when people said their War on Terror equivalents of Freedom is Slavery. So on that level (of pushing my buttons) the book worked. On most levels, really.

Somehow I doubt I’ll be able to get all the girls in the Teen Book Club to read it though.

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