I listened to this book on my iPod, and at first I was not really sure about it. It was kind of weird and futuristic, and just not my kind of book at all. But I gave it a chance because I knew there was SOME reason I'd picked it (not that I ever remembered what that reason was, exactly). It turned out to be quite excellent. so good, in fact, that I'm going to have my husband read it I think he'd like it a lot.
The premise of this book is that at some time in the not too far future, but a time when we're a lot more tech-y than we are even now - there's a terrorist bombing in San Francisco that causes a lot of trouble. The government goes a little crazy, and a totally innocent high school boy, Marcus, also known as W1nt50n (that's Winston to the non-techno geeks) gets himself into a lot of trouble by not giving up his passwords to the Department of Homeland Security and ends up being interrogated for days. This both frightens him and angers him, and he decides to fight back using his considerable skills in technology.
Marcus becomes the voice and the brains behind what nearly becomes a complete overthrow of Homeland Security via young people, their Xboxes and the Internet on a global scale. It's pretty amazing, really, and pretty believable. Doctorow pulls no punches in expressing his dislike of the Patriot Act or Homeland Security in this novel. And the more he describes the possibilities, the more he makes his point. Big Brother is watching - can Little Brother do anything about it?
Doctorow, who is a techno-guru, weaves a lot of lessons about how computers work, and he does it in a way that even people like me, who don't know a ton about computers, can understand. He actually had me believing for a minute there that I could write computer CODE!!! If you knew me, you'd never believe that, but I did! And not only that, but I thought it would be FUN!!!!
This book takes someone willing to do a little thinking and not afraid of some techno-info. Fans of MT Anderson's Feed, or Orwell's 1984 are sure to enjoy this book. This book is available at the Multnomah County Library AND it's available for FREE via the Internet under a Creative Commons license.
Here's a video trailer some kids made for the book. Enjoy!