I’ve been devouring books like a starved woman this summer, in between all my many other adventures. Certainly summer 2011 is one for the books in so many ways (I know. I'm corny. Don't judge me).
So, the most recent one I’ve read, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow stands out. It’s not so much science fiction as science possibility. Set in San Francisco in what seems like a very near future, the story follows a 17 year old techie genius named Marcus Yallow whose life takes a sudden sharp turn from being a normal teenager (if there is such a thing) to being a revolutionary activist fighting against a government that has turned against its own people.
Doctorow is brilliant in his ability to draw the reader into the world of Little Brother. The book is entertaining yet socio-politically charged, touching gracefully on tricky topics such as terrorism and racism. Doctorow manages this in an echo of the style of George Orwell whose classics include Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty Four. In fact Little Brother is a clear tribute, sort of like an “are we there yet?” analysis of Nineteen Eighty Four; a book published back in 1948 which looks into a futuristic (at that time 1984 seemed like a distant future) dystopian world in which society lives under oppressive scrutiny and control by a leader named “Big Brother.” Privacy and freedom of expression is nonexistent in this society which is constantly reminded that “Big Brother is watching you.” If you haven’t read this classic kick yourself in the ass and go read it now.
In this modern twist, Doctorow looks at modern-day security privacy infringement by the government through the eyes of opinionated, intelligent and rash teenager Marcus. When his hometown starts to resemble the insane dystopia in the name of security on the heels of a terrorist attack, Marcus uses his tech savvy to fight back against the terror inflicted by his own leaders. As the tag-line on the book cover elegantly puts it: “Big Brother is watching you. Who is watching back?”
So that's two books for you to pick up: Nineteen Eighty Four and Little Brother. Go ahead. Read them. You'll thank me afterwards.