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on 25 October 2012
Warning Teen Fiction! This is what should be written on any book aimed at children between the ages of 12-15. Not for the kids themselves, but for any adult (and especially parent) who may pick up the item themselves. `Pirate Cinema' is a story that follows 16 year old Trent as he runs away from home in an alternative near future. His incessant illegal downloading of film footage means that his family's internet privileges have been voided and with them his father's job. The next year sees Trent and a crew called the Jammie Dodgers taking on the massive corporations that own the media by splicing together illegal videos. So far so teen friendly, but the book also contains drug use and enough sex to make a grown man blush. Warning Teen Fiction!
`Pirate Cinema' is brought to you by Cory Doctorow, the author of the fantastic `Little Brother', itself a political tour de force. Whilst `Brother' was naïve, it felt like a great introduction to intelligent youngsters about politics and freedom of speech. `Pirate' takes the same level of naivety and throws in some adult curveballs that just don't sit well. `Pirate' is a book that nods towards `Oliver Twist' as a bunch of young ragamuffins get up to no good, but I do not recall the Artful Dodger getting high or getting naughty. The writing is obviously aimed at a mid-teen audience; simple sentence structure and slightly patronising discussions on political tropes that most adults would know already. If the book is aimed at a 13 year old though, why the drug use? Perhaps I myself am naïve, but I don't think this age group as a main are out doing the things seen in this book.
With the tone of the book flitting from children's novel to adult, `Pirate Cinema' never settles down in way that `Little Brother' managed. This tale of media piracy is well balanced and does discuss both sides of the argument. Intelligent younger readers will gain from this book, but their parents may feel a little uncomfortable about the content. Doctorow needs to either stick to writing for a younger teen audience, or go the whole hog and just write an adult book that any interested kid will pick up anyway.