Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A slow start, but loving it now...

Little Brother (Doctorow)

For about the first 35 pages, I wasn't all that interested in this book. Doctorow includes lots and lots (and lots) of technical jargon and hacking how-tos, some of which I may Google to see if it is real.

Once the four friends get kidnapped, however, the book gets really intense! They are kidnapped by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, stripped of all legal rights, held in dire prison conditions. Upon their release, they are forced to sign several pages of documents (confession? release from liability?) and are threatened with serious consequences if they tell the real story of what really happened to them. The kids must somehow explain their week-long disappearance to their worried parents without telling them what really happened.

I have absolutely no clue what I would do if I were in these kids' shoes. One of them is still missing, probably dead. They are under constant surveillance as their homes, their bedrooms, their schools, and the transit system are all bugged. The story of what really happened to them would be difficult enough for a parent to believe, and once they tell a different story, it will be virtually impossible to back-track it with the truth. But if they do tell the truth, will anyone believe them? How long can they hide when literally every move they make is on camera?

I'm less than one-third of the way through the book, but Little Brother is already ripe for discussion of complex and important issues such as the right to privacy and the success of terrorism. It's just a really good story; these kids are truly terrorized.

So far, I have not seen anything that would be of concern to a middle school librarian or parent, although there are a few very short violent scenes. Considering the situation the kids are in, it is incredible that they have not cursed one time so far.