Unifinished Book: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow


Doctorow's book had so many people calling it both IMPORTANT and thrilling that I felt obliged to pick it up. Which I did, from the school library. It's been next to my bed for a couple years now and I never got more than a hundred twenty-some pages in. When I was reading it, I found it compelling (the politics---the tech manages to be both still-futuristic and already-dated), but when I set it down, I would forget all about it. So I'm calling it quits.

That said, it's still a book I would recommend to young readers who maybe don't get the references in this title and the main character's nom de hack w1n5t0n. Because it's a thriller, we send w1n5t0n to Miniluv before a hundred pages have passed, then let him loose to start forming The Brotherhood with his teenage buddies.

Politics I like. Exciting pacing. Even takes place in a well captured Bay Area. Surprised I didn't just power through? Me too. But I think the first-person narrator was part of the problem for me. Even though it's obligatory for YA lit these days, I'm a bit sick of it. And for a Nineteen Eighty-four pastiche, it's a bizarre choice. It limits how broken the protaganist can become which limits the amount of risk he can possibly undergo. In other words, the choice of first-person necessitates jetissoning a large measure of suspense and danger. In other words, it makes the novel much much safer. And that, I think, undercuts the politics and the pacing leaving a moral-of-the-story, characters I hopefully like totally love, and some good pizza recommendations for next time I'm in the Mission.

Not enough.


  1. It's the only Doctorow in my vast, vast, ... vast library and I've never gotten to it.

  2. .

    It's good he's making kids think about this stuff, but it's a bit little for my time. . . .