The Youth of America is Finally Useful

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by Andrea Gonzalez

Little Brother by
Cory Doctorow takes place in the very near future of San Francisco. Marcus
Yallow, the hero of the story, is a rebel who finds his cause. He and his friends
are computer hackers, who make the huge mistake of leaving school early in
order to play an alternate reality game. Being caught in the aftermath of a
terrorist attack that destroys the San Francisco Bay Bridge, Marcus and his
three friends are mistaken for terrorists and are interrogated by the
Department of Homeland Security. After a few days of being tortured, Marcus,
Vanessa, and Jolu are freed, but Darryl is not. As Marcus witnesses his beloved
nation being turned into a police state, the computer hackers of America decide
to lead a revolt against The Department of Homeland Security.


When I
found out that I had to read this novel for my book club last year, I had very
low expectations. Being a snob when it comes to literature, I was surprised to
find myself enjoying a young adult novel. Little
is more than just entertaining; it also reminds us all the older
generation isn’t always the wisest, and sometimes it’s up to the younger
generation to remind us all that America was created on the value of liberty.


This is more than just a tale of a
teenaged rebel who enjoys outwitting authority. Marcus is portrayed as a
realistic teenaged slacker who realizes that his generation has the power to
make a difference in the world. Even though he is living in a world where those
that fight terrorism and supposedly keep our nation safe are idolized and
admired, he discovers that the DHS is corrupt and actually making things worse
by causing panic. The computer hackers turn to the philosophy of Abbie Hoffman
for help of stopping the tyranny in America. As I read this story, I kept
smiling since I had never before read a novel that actually praised past
cultural movements instead of wrongly portraying liberals as lazy, promiscuous
drug addicts who are going through a rebellious phase.


Even though Doctorow pulls what I
like to call an “Upton Sinclair” in this book by straining away from the story,
and starts to explain to the reader seemingly random facts about computer
hacking, he also manages not alienate the reader. Doctorow also manages to make
the rebellion in Little Brother to
have logic and meaning behind it, and not all sound like a savage act. If
you’re a patriotic liberal geek, then you’ll love this book. However, if you’re
a Reagan-loving conservative who misses the values of the 1950’s, then you’ll
want to burn it.


Overall, I give Little
four out of four stars. It’s entertaining, realistic, and makes us
all wonder what’s in store for our generation. It is available free at

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The Youth of America is Finally Useful