I will confess that I put off reading Cory Doctorow’s Homeland for months simply because the story opens at Burning Man. Back when it came out I bought it, put it on my ereader and read the first few pages and went Ugh. I don’t know why exactly. Maybe it’s just the kind of book that needs to be read in summer. In any case this time I was ready for it and really liked the book.
Homeland is the sequel to Little Brother, but in this one Marcus has graduated from high school and dropped out of university and is trying to get by in our modern economy, which gets him involved in politics. There are plot points about leaking politically sensitive materials and surveillance and hacking party politics to reflect what real people (or at least tech-savvy San Franciscans) care about. It’s pretty great, and sadly topical.
The topicality is a big part of what I like about this book. Aaron Swartz wrote the afterword and it’s great. The book did have a bunch of Doctorow’s essayistic explanatory tics (you read a lot about cold-brewed coffee in this book) but it feels more like a novel with excited explanations than a polemic with a plot. But there’s enough information in it to be inspiring.
It’s the kind of book I’d like lots of people to read, not just high school students. It was enough of a kick in the ass for me to finally root my old phone and install Tor on it, so if you measure a book by how it changes behaviour this was a good one.
Doctorow manages to bring realism to a disturbing near-future tale of government surveillance and control run amok. The protagonist is a compelling young man who uses tech skills to defy impending fascism. Though this is a YA novel, it works well for older readers too.
Thoroughly readable... can't quite give it the five stars I gave to Little Brother because it begins with a long, long paean to Burning Man, and because it's not stand-alone enough (anybody who hadn't read the first book, and recently, would be irretrievably lost before long). But it's got engaging characters, and a rollicking storyline, and wonderful cameos. Doctorow has a tremendous talent for making me *worry* about his characters and what's going to happen to them (and my favorite city) next!
Just finished reading it and... well, this book deserved an ending with some complexity and nuance. It felt a bit contrived. Not bad... but not as good as the rest of the book led me to expect and hope for.
An outrageous book, given that Cory Doctorow, the author, heavily censors his site, boingboing.net! I find it difficult to stomach any type of fiction in this genre from someone like Doctorow, who practises extreme censorship at the web site he founded (and he is specifically the one responsible for doing so) as he strives to only allow the most vanilla of comments on his site!
A worthy (but not quite so engaging) followup to Little Brother.
Re_Bel thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over
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