International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Young Adult Fiction Reviews
Brother by Cory Doctorow
Harper Collins Publishers
see what youre typing, they know where you buy your coffee
if youre skipping school and they know who you call. Cory
Doctorow sets this amazing read in San Francisco following the heroic
yet geeky Marcus. Sure he may not care much for school or getting
good grades; hes more interested in playing his half computer,
half real life games with his gang. But hes about to change
when he regrettably skips school. The next 9/11 occurs but thats
not the focus of the book, this is merely the spark that lights
the paranoid flames of America. The true enemy to watch out for
now is the Department of Homeland Security.
a different route to work? You are a suspected terrorist. Buying anything
out of the ordinary? Not anymore youre accounts are now frozen
on suspected terrorism. Watch your back now, thats if the high
tech cameras that identify you by the way you walk arent. Adults
are thrilled with the crackdown on terrorism; the children who know
the truth however are not. Marcus knows this all too well when he spends
a grizzling week of mental and physical torture with the DHS. Why he
doesnt tell anyone or his parents when hes released, I scream
to myself. Because he cant, because you could end up like his
friend Darryl whose dead, so the DHS say.
Cory successfully has written a pre 1984 situation, which makes us see
the need to take action first before free will is taken out of our hands.
Marcus takes the ethically challenging and maturing path facing the
ultimate question; do I need to become the terrorist they think I am
in order to save America? For fellow computer geeks out there like me
I truly recommend this book, for the non MMORPGers out there you
might find yourself completely swamped in learning the language of leeting
(numbers replaced by letters for example H3LL0). The book maintains
a good balance of a realistic story line, although some of the plausible
things you can do at home seem a little farfetched; such as making a
toilet roll into a spy camera detector, thats something I never
saw made on Blue Peter.
Typing this review scares me a little after reading this techno terrorist
novel, and thats the great thing about this book. It makes the
reader really think about the possibility of a technology controlling
government. The only other drawback is the romantic interest Marcus
takes, whilst he is seventeen like her, it still seems like soft core
porn in places, and seeing these characters as quite immature made me
slightly uneasy. Luckily however these are only small moments and do
not hinder the overall effectiveness of the book.
So what type of person will you be? Will you turn a blind eye and go
to school as normal where they brainwash you? Or will you join the fight
and start jamming peoples phones alongside Marcus and the other
Xnetters. The stakes have never been higher and Marcus is the only one
who can give them hope. Will he overcome his own fears and lead the
next generation into an all out internet war against the government?
But more importantly, will he win?
© michael luzanycia March 2009
sun_shooter_shadow at hotmail.com
Michael is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth
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