Review | Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Little BrotherFew novels I have read recently have made me stop and think, reexamine my world, quite the same way that Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother does. Although published five years back when the politics of the Bush Administration and the post-9/11 expansion of government surveillance were still fresh in our minds, I found the novel fresh and relevant.

One part thriller and two parts geek, Little Brother opens on a group of high school kids who play hooky from school to participate in a treasure hunt. They are caught up in the aftermath of a massive terrorist attack that kills thousands, literally caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, and end up in a secret prison as suspects.

Also, did I mention that they happen to be more technically inclined than the average student?

Released, they fight back, using hacks and technical resources I didn’t know existed, but that Doctorow clearly explains and uses. As an added bonus, Doctorow explains in an addendum where he gets his technical material and what resources a reader could use to replicate what he describes in the book.

It’s a fascinating story, for geeks and nongeeks, and the message is still fresh today: how much privacy should we expect, and to what extent are we willing to give up privacy and freedom for security?

The sequel to Little Brother is Homeland and came out February 5, 2013 (and yes, I’m currently enjoying it).

Overall rating4 of 5 stars false

Parent’s guide: This book was marketed to young adults, but would be just as well read by older groups.

  • Sex: At one point, it is referenced, but no description is given.
  • Violence: Some violence. Descriptions of torture.
  • Language: Occasional cussing.


Attack of the Books! is participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, a month long quest to post every day. Each day should match a letter of the alphabet. Today is the letter L (as in Little Brother).


About Daniel

Daniel Burton lives in Salt Lake County, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. He reads about history, politics, and current events, as well as more serious genres such as science fiction and fantasy. You can also follow him on his blog where he muses on politics, the law, books and ideas.