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This a sequel to the book Little Brother. It could be read on its own but I think it is better to read the other one first and then read this one.

If you use the internet or have a smartphone then this could easily give you nightmares as you realise what sort of surveillance is theoretically possible using them. It is quite hard to get to the end of the book and not feel at least a bit paranoid.

It is one of those books set about 5 minutes in the future, so although it is sort of science fiction there is nothing in it that you can't imagine being possible now.

Despite the wealth of detail about technical matter and the culture and ethoics around them this is also a good read. If you just want techie details, buy a text book, because this has a story that makes you keep reading faster and faster because you wnat to know what is coming next.
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on 11 October 2013
Firstly fans of Little Brother will enjoy this direct sequel we have another diatribe against the current state of American society - instead of the War on Terror and the craziness of Homeland Security we have as slightly wider canvas as Doctorow takes on the American 2 party system and the Military Industrial complex that helps support it. With the main plotline inspired by Wikileaks we get another rattling chapter of Marcus' life.

So why the 3 stars? Effectively the novel loses 2 stars for the poorly constructed and plotted ending - most of it happens off screen at one hand removed so the story never reaches a satisfying conclusion. In fact my major complaint is that several plot lines are not tied off - we never find out about Joes senate bid for example.

So as a polemics this books works as well as Little Brother - as an example of the storytellers art not so much.

As another plus there are some small essays from key people involved in Wikileaks and Reddit.

Highlight of the bonuses is a Little Brother short story which lacks most of the flaws of the main novel as does work both as a polemic and a story.

A little more polish next time please Mr Doctorow.
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on 2 January 2014
The sequel (of sorts) to the excellent Little Brother, Homeland starts well and builds a strong story, populated by believable characters.

Then throws it all away with a very rushed and inconclusive ending.

Rather disappointing.
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I first encountered Cory Doctorow when I read his young adult novel, Little Brother. At the time I thought Boing Boing was the sound rubber balls made. In one of my first ever Amazon reviews I described Little Brother as 'evocative and exciting' and a 'counter culture blockbuster'. For me it set the techno-thriller benchmark and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

On the back of that enjoyment I have read a couple of his follow up novels Makers and For the Win. Whilst interesting, these are much patchier affairs. Doctorow has a tendency to let his depth of knowledge and passion for his subject overwhelm the story he's trying to tell. This may be fine if you are an über geek, but if you just a common or garden variety like me, you can't help but wish for a tougher edit.

This is the first Doctorow novel I've read since he switched publishers to Titan books. I have no idea if the switch has brought about greater editorial control, but Homeland is a worthy, compelling sequel to Little Brother. If you haven't read LB yet, you really should start there. Whilst Homeland just about stands on its own, reading LB will give it much greater context.

"There's something wrong with our world."

"Somehow the ideals of friendliness, neighborliness, and justice have vanished."

"To be replaced by a cult of greed, shortsightedness and whatever you can get away with."

Homeland is set several years after LB. Life for Marcus has returned to some level of normality. He is still something of an Internet celebrity but he no longer attracts unwanted attention from US secret services. The world's financial crisis is biting the San Francisco area hard. Marcus's parents have lost their jobs, and he has had to give up going to college through lack of funds. He has diligently been searching for a job, without success.

The novel opens with Marcus trying to forget his woes at the Burning Man festival. A zero impact festival, something like a hi-tech Glastonbury in the middle of the desert. When two associates from his past turn up with a flash drive filled with incendiary data, Marcus feels himself being dragged back towards his old life. When he witnesses his Nemesis kidnapping his old friends, he is flung headlong back into the world of secrets, encryption and the occasional 3D printer. (Everything I know about 3D printing, I know from Doctorow. It's clearly a favourite topic.)

The plot is slight and some of the arguments made are over-simplified, but that doesn't really matter. What is important is the novel's tone. This is a left leaning polemic about freedom of information, the abuse of anti-terrorism laws and corporate greed. It's a book that can be distilled into any number of aphorisms, but it's overriding message could well be 'Tech don't kill people, humans do,' all the while asking that vital question,'Who watches the Watchman'. (The are a number of similarities between the themes in this book and the recently published The Violent Centuryby Lavie Tidhar. The books are nothing alike but have a thematic harmony).

There is a lot made of the fallibility of the political system, much of which is entirely justified. It seems a fact of life that an idealist with an agenda for change will wind up a conformist, focused on defending their position. 'It's complicated' runs the excuse. Marcus and Doctorow suggest that perhaps it isn't.

Whilst never being quite as eye-opening as Little Brother, Doctorow once again reveals the frightening capabilities of modern technology to track every mote of our existence. He explains complicated constructs in a simple fashion, mostly refraining from bombarding us with detail. Once again Doctorow has provided a clarion call for the disaffected and technologically savvy youth. The geek may inherit, but what they do with it is entirely up to them. For a man entering his fifth decade, this idea is slightly worrying, but with ethically and socially conscious writers like Doctorow providing guidance there is hope for us all. Maybe.
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on 23 August 2014
I loved 'Little Brother' and so it was shoe in that I'd love 'Homeland', its sequel: I did. Doctorow's characters grab you, and his tale, though fiction, is painfully close to reality. I Want to go to Burning Man!!!
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on 15 April 2016
Superb book. Everyone should read it! Opens your eyes on the way the world really works. Great characters, I felt their pain and joys. I also learned a lot about technical side of Internet and modern technology, all made clear for an old layman like me.
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on 1 January 2014
I haven,t enjoyed a tech book as much since the golden age of cyber punk. Two books in two days. They are addictive.
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on 16 December 2015
Excellent follow-up to Little Brother. Cory's books are 'must reads' for our modern digital surveillance society.
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on 17 March 2015
Brilliant. Dystopia. Created the future that brought Snowden to come out clean
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on 20 April 2013
I bought this book for my Son, he tells me he thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed the tv series.
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