There is most definitely a line between using your novel to explore a subject and using your novel as a way to push your own views of that subject on your audience. Sadly, this book falls into the second category.
As a result this book very much reads like a long political statement and propaganda. As with Little Brother and Homeland, two novels that I very much enjoyed, Cory Doctorow has taken the very current subject of privacy in regards to technology as well as modern copyright laws to an extreme in order to create a theme for his novel. However, unlike with those other two novels where I felt the story came first and the message second, this book seemed to be the other way around.
This meant that reading this book felt very much like I was being preached at. Whether it's listening to politicians, getting the sales pitch at a car dealership, or reading novels, as soon as I feel like someone is trying to push and manipulate me into feeling and thinking a certain way, I very quickly want to get the hell out of there.
Now, this point of view is coming from someone who has very similar opinions on these subjects as Mr Doctorow. I have read his non-fiction work, somewhere where this kind of message should be found as it isn't hidden and manipulative, and I enjoyed those books thoroughly. However, those were the books for that kind of message, not this novel aimed at young adults. This just felt subversive and manipulative which is why I can't bring myself to give this more than two stars.
Though that is my main gripe with the story, it was not the last. The protagonist is a bit unsympathetic and the story takes its sweet time getting to any kind of point. I stopped reading this novel at the 50% mark and so far the concept of a Pirate Cinema had barely been touched on. It certainly didn't seem like some kind of central issue. I got the impression that the story didn't know what it wanted to be.
So overall I can't recommend this book. It doesn't read well as a story and it is incredibly subversive, so it is just 2 stars this time round.
I picked this up in water-stones as a holiday read, and am totally loving it, its a great read, plus some of the techie stuff such as Trusted Computing is a technology that I wasn't really that aware of!! I am now thx Cory I am impressed, great stuff.
This was my first Cory Doctorow book, and it just captured me. It is fiction, but it hits on so many real life situations and really does make you think "What the hell is going on with copyright law and anti-piracy stuff".
An extremely fun read that really riles up the activist inside you
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.