Customer Reviews


116 Reviews
5 star:
 (44)
4 star:
 (39)
3 star:
 (28)
2 star:
 (5)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Counter-Culture Blockbuster
I picked up 'Little Brother' on the back of one or two interesting reviews, and it's fair to say it didn't disappoint. Both exciting and provocative, I expect it to become one of the most talked about novels of 2008.

With a title like 'Little Brother', Cory Doctorow's novel is bound to draw comparison with 1984, although the two are only superficially similar...
Published on 23 Nov 2008 by Quicksilver

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Orwellian novel.
Calling your novel "Little Brother" is not really leaving much to the reader's imagination. There really are no subtleties at all in this novel about the abuse of individual rights, the attack on people's privacy and the blatant assault on the Constitution of the USA in the name of `national security' in the digital age.

The book starts with Marcus Yallow, aka...
Published on 24 Sep 2010 by Els De Clercq


‹ Previous | 1 212 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Counter-Culture Blockbuster, 23 Nov 2008
By 
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Little Brother (Paperback)
I picked up 'Little Brother' on the back of one or two interesting reviews, and it's fair to say it didn't disappoint. Both exciting and provocative, I expect it to become one of the most talked about novels of 2008.

With a title like 'Little Brother', Cory Doctorow's novel is bound to draw comparison with 1984, although the two are only superficially similar. To me choice of title feels as though it was made in the hope of catching some reflected glory from Orwell's masterpiece, which is shame; though not destined for 1984's greatness amongst the literary canon, I think 'Little Brother' may, in future, be seen as a seminal piece of counter-cultural fiction.

But what do I know? I'm over 25, which Doctorow goes some to lengths to point out, means that it's best not to listen to me. Little Brother, is very much a novel for the young and although I enjoyed it, I'm sure I missed some of the nuances of an IT savvy lifestyle and the general state of oppression that most teenagers (feel they) live under. I found 'Little Brother' very reminiscent of Scott Westerfeld's novels, which I have also enjoyed and at the end of the novel, Doctorow acknowledges Westerfeld's influence.

Little Brother breaks down into two major themes; the use of technology and the abuse of power. The sections that detail using an Xbox to create an underground internet and outline the various cryptographic measures taken by the characters, reek of authenticty and form a solid framework upon which the novel is built. For me though, the strength of the novel lies in its assessment of the abuse of our basic human rights through anti-terror legislation.

The near-future, pictured by Doctorow is entirely plausible and therefore all the more
terrifying. His arguments are a little one-sided; not all anti-terror measures are about controlling the population (but perhaps I think that because I'm over 25) and certain sections of the novel feel contrived; shoe-horned in to allow the author to make a certain political point. The teenage whinging of the protagonist is also sometimes a little hard to bear and occasionally gives the book a somewhat juvenile tone (again this may be an age thing).

Nevertheless, 'Little Brother' is an excellent and deeply affecting read. A wide ranging polemic on the abuse of power and people's contentment to let it happen, as long it doesn't affect them, or helps them feel safer at a minority's expense. Anybody who thinks identity cards are a good thing, or that you have nothing to worry about if you've done nothing wrong should read 'Little Brother'; it will open your eyes. The final pages brought a tear to my eye and left me wondering, just how much I am manipulated by the government and a reactionary media. Little Brother is the most important novel I have read in months, and I urge you to do the same.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Information Bombardment, 21 Oct 2008
By 
Mr. RB FORTUNE-WOOD "Rowan" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Little Brother (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I wouldn't quite go as far as Neil Gaiman, but I would certainly recommend Little Brother to anyone interested in civil liberties, dystopia fiction or hacking. In writing this novel Cory Doctorow deservedly joins the company of a long line of dystopic writers like Jack London, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Aldous Huxley and George Orwell. His intertextual link with Orwell warrants particular mention; Little Brother doesn't just allude to Nineteen Eighty Four, it seems to consciously set out to expand on it. And although Nineteen Eighty Four is a superior novel, Doctorow has definitely succeeded in contemporising the central point.

Doctorow sets out to bombard his readers with information in a way vaguely reminiscent of Manuel Puig's footnotes in Kiss of the Spider Woman - this is a polemic with a narrative with a hundred articles on youth culture, political history, the beats, human rights, counter-terrorism and so on and so forth all in one book. It is openly didactic and angrily political and if you agree with its social commentary (as I do) it is quite an experience.

Little Brother is also an instruction manual on how to think about security - from mundane security to draconian security to security against draconian security; Doctorow aims to show how security can work for you and against you and how security without privacy is ineffective and harmful. In addition Little Brother is a homage to hackers (like Andrew "bunnie" Huang), defenders of freedom (like Emma Goldman) and writers (like George Orwell).

The novels style is fast, meandering, idiomatic (in a middle class geeky way) and realist. Doctorow is not above using thriller devices like chapter cliff-hangers and foreshadowing nor will he be gentle. He is, however, honest, even about being polemical and didactic, which I guess is what stops this book from becoming sheer propaganda. Doctorow uses cultural references well to ground his novel and maintains the strong atmosphere of his San Francisco setting replete with anarchist bookstores, coffee shops and iconoclasts.

This book does have limitations. To maintain the flow of information Doctorow had to weaken the narrative by inserting endless descriptions. Because of this you sometimes feel like you are reading an interesting collection of political essays rather than a novel. The villains are caricatures, which is admittedly hard to avoid. And lastly, Little Brother can become annoyingly sentimental in a way Orwell would never even contemplate allowing. However, these problems don't significantly detract from the works value and the real deciding factor when it comes to enjoying this book is going to be, as with all instrumental novels, do you agree with its argument?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book that introduces the world of technology to teens in a quirky, interesting way but...., 11 May 2013
This review is from: Little Brother (Kindle Edition)
The Kindle edition of this eBook can be downloaded legally & for free from the author's website, so by buying it from the Kindle Store, you are really paying £4.00 just for the book's copyrighted cover art.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars if you’re going to read one book this year – this is the one, 25 July 2014
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Little Brother (Paperback)
I never write reviews, but with this book - I just had to do it.

“Little Brother”, on the surface, seems to be an enjoyable read about of a teenager living in today’s world of ubiquitous surveillance. Marcus tries to live a normal life, with his friends, family and a girlfriend. Then comes the twist - he gets caught in the aftermath of a terror attack. The young American is not arrested - as you would expect in sunny San Francisco, California. He is detained.

That’s where the real story unfolds. From that moment on, you can’t stop reading and you can’t stop wondering. Why this fiction (about home) is so similar to reality (abroad)? Why is it so scary? Is it really that easy to change the land of freedom into a land of terror?

This is a great book. If you have never been interested in civil liberties, didn't care about Guantanamo, secret prisons or torture – this book is precisely for you. It won’t bore you. The life of a young man with impressive computer skills is entertaining enough. But really, it’s a very important warning how fragile are liberties are. In unassuming, even light style, the story unfolds to shows surprisingly accurate parallels between fiction in the book and the real events we hear about, no so far from home.

Someone said “if you’re going to read one book this year – this is the one”. I couldn't agree more.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifyingly real and thought-provoking: a certain unease will stay with you long after you turn the last page., 23 Nov 2008
By 
ELH Browning "Esther-Lou" (Kingston Bagpuize, Oxon) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Little Brother (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a smashing book, techno-rich and strikingly both contemporary (with Sept 11th overtones) and futuristic. Teenagers in San Francisco are trying to hold on to their civil liberties and fight a big brother state that is worrying unduly about foreign extremists, while the very real threat of US Guantanamo-bay treatment looms all too close to All-American students. With high-level hacking (all a bit beyond me, I must confess) and first love, fear and heroics, choices and chilling risk, this is an exciting and pacy adventure. It's also a very thought provoking read about the trade-off between state-security/authority and personal freedom/privacy, the potential of the internet and security technologies etc. that will appeal to a computer-literate generation of teens. [There's even unnerving "Afterwords" and Bibliography giving would-be hackers advice that'll keep them off the streets.] Little Brother will have wider appeal than just teens: I was intrigued by it and hooked from very early on, enjoying it so much that I have ordered a copy to be sent to my own Little Brother (aged 29). It is without question a gripping 21st century tale for adults too.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendously creepy and thought-provoking, 19 Oct 2008
By 
SJSmith (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Little Brother (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The title lends itself to the obvious comparison with `1984' and Orwell's concept of Big Brother. The comparison is justified in taking Orwell's narrative and transposing it into the 21st Century and most likely beyond. There are references in the novel to 9/11 and other than that I was unable to establish how far into the future (if indeed it was) the novel was set. Whilst reading, the 1983 film `War Games' instantly sprung to mind and I enjoyed this book as much as I loved that film.

I genuinely hadn't realised the novel was for younger reader's when I selected it, never mind though because it was fantastic. Some of the technology mentioned was lost on me in places, however with the author's ability to divulge the necessary information without you feeling bombarded, it didn't impinge on my reading or understanding of the plot. I have a feeling the title and cover would have caught my eye on a shelf, my cover has a teenager in a hoody in front of a CCTV camera; whilst another has a big red cross on the front.

I live in a fantastic area and because I live next to a roundabout close to businesses, there is a CCTV camera more or less outside of my front door. Whilst I was reading the book, the ideas that were beginning to circle around in my mind got me to thinking about why the surveillance cameras were there; even more so once I'd reached the two different afterword at the end.

Initially the book doesn't race along and when I first picked it up I thought it was going to be a slow read - mainly because some of the terminology was beyond me. However I was wrong and I soon became sucked into seventeen year-old Marcus' world. It's a world I will never naturally inhabit and for the brief time I was in it, I was fascinated. I'm not an oldie by any means but I became intrigued with how data is used and why surveillance is present. So thank you Cory Doctorow for making me think more about the day to day world around me.

The novel is character driven initially but then the plot takes over in a serious way. I don't want to reveal too much as it would spoil the plot, but some of the situations and locations Marcus gets himself into - could they really exist? It is quite mind-blowing to consider everything the author puts down on paper for us. I can see this novel having wide appeal from youngsters to adults from those who have the technological capabilities to those who simply enjoy a fantastic novel. However you approach this novel, you will need someone else you know to read it because you will want to talk about it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, 23 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Little Brother (Paperback)
A brilliant read, particularly relevant in view of the Snowden issue. I liked the conversations with the teacher and the boys father that challenge assumptions about privacy and security and should make you question your own attitudes. The story was interesting, the characters convincing and the message frightening.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Orwellian novel., 24 Sep 2010
By 
Els De Clercq "EDC" (Belgium) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Little Brother (Paperback)
Calling your novel "Little Brother" is not really leaving much to the reader's imagination. There really are no subtleties at all in this novel about the abuse of individual rights, the attack on people's privacy and the blatant assault on the Constitution of the USA in the name of `national security' in the digital age.

The book starts with Marcus Yallow, aka w1n5t0n (later M1k3y), and his friends Darryl, Van and Jolu in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on San Francisco (not coincidentally also the birthplace of a lot of the digital age tycoons as well as the traditional epicenter of liberalism in the US). After the Bay Bridge is attacked, they find themselves arrested and `questioned' by agents of the Department of Homeland Security. Three of the boys are eventually released (but are terrified into not letting anyone know what happened to them, or else...) but Darryl's fate seems uncertain: dead, locked up someplace else,...

This experience, as well as seeing how his home city has turned into a police state, leads Marcus to set up his own version of a `safe and untraceable' network of his own, the Xnet, which starts to lead a life of his own in this teen version of a techno-revolution. What follows is a whirlwind of technical tidbits, (semi-)mathematical explanations about the ifs and hows of some of the Internet and the Xnet's security issues and a race against time to bring down the DHS to save individual liberties and obtain justice for all...

Yes, those are the stakes that Marcus is up against. The themes and references in this book are very much in your face, but you keep reading because you want to know if - and especially of course how - Marcus succeeds in destroying this oppressive DHS-tyranny. At times the book is really quite enjoyable, but as many times, the writing style of this book bothered me with its amateurism and shallowness. Nevertheless, Little Brother is an interesting and enjoyable read for all you compu-geeks out there. You might get a tech-buzz out of all the references. Of course, the themes are what they are, and of course, one shouldn't ridicule any attack on a person's civil liberties, just don't expect a stylized novel with carefully chosen language or you will be in for a disappointment.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Private lives, 14 April 2010
By 
Jeremy Walton (Sidmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Little Brother (Paperback)
I enjoyed the mix of technology, story and polemic in Cory's Makers, and found the premise of "Little Brother" - a glimpse into the near future with an eye on privacy, freedom and surveillance in a post-9/11 world - interesting. It's an important theme which deserves serious consideration, but I don't really think it's received it here. As others have pointed out, Cory makes his belief (that no amount of fear can justify the curtailment of the right to privacy) explicit on every page. There's no room for contemplation of an alternative - or even a more subtle - view: thus, *all* the bad guys in the Department of Homeland Security are shown to be engaged in nefarious practices designed to keep the populace under control (it's even suggested at one point that these include engineering a terrorist attack as post-hoc justification for more extreme forms of surveillance), while the goodies (led by Marcus, the 17-year old hero) are brave, inventive, kind and smarter than the baddies. They're also young and, at one point, come up with the slogan "Don't trust anyone over 25" (you see what I mean about this not being a subtle treatment of the issue).

Youth is probably another reason why Marcus keeps breaking off from the story to provide the reader with breathlessly explicatory paragraphs about botnets, encryption, radio frequency ID tags, the civil rights movement and Jack Kerouac. I thought a few of these were interesting (even for stuff I already knew about), but they include some sloppy writing which I found irritating. For example, Marcus describes the geography of San Francisco and explains the difference between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge; apparently, he feels obliged to insert this because he originally thinks (p63) that it's the former that's been attacked by terrorists. But it's hard to see why he should, because the signature of the attack was "a huge black cloud rising from the northeast, from the direction of the Bay" (p25). I've only been to San Francisco half a dozen times, but I'm pretty sure that I'd be able to work out which bridge was implied by this, even in the middle of the heat of the war on terror.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surveillance, privacy and feedom, 15 Jan 2010
By 
Alison "runninggirlcycling" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Little Brother (Paperback)
Little Brother is a novel for young adults which is set a few years in the future. A serious terrorist act shakes San Francisco and a group of teenagers get caught up in the aftermath.

The central themes are civil rights, privacy and freedom and a lot of interesting ground is covered in the book. However, as with other Cory Doctorow novels I've read, he has a point to make and uses the story as the vehicle for his opinions. Sometimes that makes the story seem incidental to the proselytising that is going on. The story is probably (hopefully?!) far fetched in parts but the ending seemed at odds to the rest of the book and too tidy and well resolved.

There is quite a lot of technological content and most is well explained but I am already familiar with most of the tech he includes so I'm not sure how the less geeky reader would feel about it.

I'm over the age of the target audience and I can imagine that the young adult readers that this book is intended for would get a lot out of discussing the themes with other young adult readers. Regardless of your age; if you have never considered how surveillance features in your daily life then this book could open your eyes.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 212 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Little Brother
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Paperback - 13 Oct 2008)
6.70
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews