Written by: Cory Doctorow
Pages: 396 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
This sequel to Doctorow’s previous work, Little Brother, sees Marcus Yallow, (formerly M1k3y) a hacker with a not inconsiderable set of l33t skills, becoming embroiled in political intrigue, shady conspiracies and a healthy dose of techno paranoia. Entrusted by an old friend with a flashdrive full of incriminating evidence on the nation’s highest up higher ups, which he is instructed to leak online should anything happen to her before the very same people come after him and the people he cares about.
Written with a comprehensive understanding of every aspect of the story (politics, computers, uh…coffee) Doctorow has written a taut page turner filled with foreboding and almost prescient knowledge. Seriously, the plot could have been (and maybe was) ripped from the headlines over the past few years. It’s as much of a wake up call as it is a work of fiction.
His characters, some continuing on from Little Brother, crucially feel like real people and not your standard Hollywood ‘hacker’ type clichés, and the world they inhabit feels not too far from our own. It’s a near-dystopia that’s only just teetered over the brink we in the real world currently find ourselves upon, which makes it all the more terrifying. Freedoms are impinged upon, privacy rights are suspended in the name of national security and nowhere is safe. But it’s not all doom and gloom; in fact the overall message of the book is one of hope, that the little guy can make a difference in the world.
The hacker speak which starts off as almost impenetrable becomes easier to understand as the book goes on. It could be 100% accurate or it could be gibberish as far as I know, but after a few pages it all begins to make sense, even if you don’t know what words like ‘darknet’ or ‘laptop’ mean.
Overall, it’s as much of a statement as it is a thriller novel, and a very enjoyable one at that. And at the very least it’ll make you look twice at that little webcam on your laptop.
After all, it’s not paranoia if they’re really after you.
4 out of 5 Nerds