by Cory Doctorow
Little Brother is one of those books that can make you an evangelist. You start recommending it to everyone you know. Then to people you barely know. Then you start walking up to random strangers... Okay, not quite. But this is a book that I really think SHOULD be read be every informed citizen. Let me tell you what it's about, and hopefully you'll see why.
As the book opens, Marcus coerces three close friends into ditching high school so that their team can play their favorite online/real world clue hunting game. They're out and about in San Francisco when they hear and feel a massive explosion. Suddenly, there is chaos everywhere, and one of Marcus's friends is hurt. Being kids, they look to authority to help in a time of crisis. They try to flag down either the cops or an ambulance, but who they actually get to stop are some military guys. From there, things start happening fast. Marcus and his friends are detained on U.S. soil for six days and treated like terrorists, simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Eventually, three of the four kids are released and severely threatened not to tell what happened to them. They don't even know what became of their injured friend. The ordeal affects the three in different ways. As they get back into "normal life," they discover that life is anything but normal. Homeland Security has taken over San Francisco. Being San Francisco, the city protests. The louder the protests, the tighter Homeland Security grips down on the city. This causes even more extreme forms of protest, and suddenly it's like a vicious circle between the rights of the people and the control of the government--for our "protection." Marcus and his friends are intimately caught up in the events that follow an act of terror they had nothing to do with.
This is being marketed as a young adult novel only because the protagonists are teenagers, but I am a 39-year-old woman, and let me tell you--this book is freakin' scary! Not in a Stephen King sort of way, but in a so realistic I can see this stuff already happening in the world around me sort of way. I AM a San Franciscan, so I can smile at the entirely realistic way the reactions of this city's inhabitants was portrayed. Setting the story here was brilliant, because, yeah, San Francisco does not sit idly by. But you don't have to be radical in the least to be worried by what Doctorow has eerily predicted in this novel. And once you've read it, you'll look at a lot of things happening in the world today with new eyes. And then you too many become an evangelist.