Thursday, September 29, 2016

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Banned Books Week takes place the last week of September every year. It's a time to bring awareness of the banning and challenging of books that is still prevalent in our society. To support the freedom to read, I choose a banned/challenged book that I've never read before. Because of this, my review is slightly different, as I tend to focus on the reason it was banned or challenged for most of the review. For more information on Banned Books Week, visit

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Publication date: 2008
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 365
My rating: 3.5 stars
Ages: 16+

When San Francisco is attacked, Marcus and his friends are taken to an undisclosed location to be questioned as terrorists. When they are let go, Marcus is determined to get back at them anyway he can. Setting up a secret web and gathering other protestors, Marcus tries to find ways to bring back the freedom that was taken from them the moment the Department of Homeland Security decided everyone was guilty until proven innocent. With the threat of prison hanging over his head, Marcus needs to find a way to evade the DHS and to win back his city.

Doctorow's novel was challenged and pulled from the curriculum at a Florida high school in 2014. The reason cited? It promoted questioning authority. Which was the entire point of the book. Authority should be questioned, especially if they seem to be doing something wrong. Our kids should be taught that it's okay to ask questions, to wonder if something is the right way to do something. That is how democracy works, what this entire country was built on.

Other reasons cited include hacking culture. Yes, hacking shouldn't really be the past time for the average teenager. And Marcus did some pretty illegal stuff. But hacking is so prevalent in movies and TVs, that I think kids are so used to hearing about it that it won't be anything new or revelatory to them. And I liked the way Doctorow explained the different parts of hacking and using computers in the way that his characters do. It was simple enough that even I understood what was happening, instead of it being a mysterious amount of typing.

There was some sex and sexual circumstances, but nothing graphic. Surprisingly, there was hardly any language. A brief mention of the "f-word" without the entire word spelled out.

I think that this book could act like a cautionary tale--what if the government did react the way it did in the book to terrorist attacks? What if we were suddenly part of a police state? What would that mean for us and how should we react?

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon. 

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