Saturday, September 20, 2014

Reader's Diary #1069- Cory Doctorow: Little Brother

I'll chalk this one up as one of the biggest disappointments I've read this year. I enjoyed parts of Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, I usually find his contributions to BoingBoing interesting, and I even support many of his politics. So, his best-known novel, and an allusion to 1984 no less, should have been a clear winner.

Alas, I really, really, really did not like Little Brother. It started out okay. There was a lot of cyber-jargon at the beginning but I thought I was holding my own (though a lot of credit for that comes from an Evolving and Emerging Technology course I took recently) and the plot of some teens being held on terrorism suspicions by the Department of Homeland Security certainly had promise. But eventually the jargon became too much. As did every other computer science, political science, underground culture, nerd culture, and history lesson. The story, when it occasionally managed to break through, felt contrived and even silly. Marcus, the central character, quotes a passage from the Declaration of Independence about half a dozen times. Little Brother is not clever, it's annoying and didactic.

5 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It sounds like the book was ill-conceived right from the start. Which, I guess, is where concepts generally start...

John Mutford said...

Barbara: I get the sense that the plot wasn't really conceived at all, or at least not worked out. Many passages feel as if they were simply topics or concerns that were on Doctorow's mind on whatever particular day he sat down to write.

Loni said...

Yikes! I just got a copy and I was looking forward to it.... It got banned from a school last summer so Doctorow gave a copy to every student in the class who was supposed to read it (or something like that). Anytime a book is banned, it piques my interest and since it's inspired by 1984, I thought it would be great for me....

John Mutford said...

Loni: Yes, banned books pique my interest as well. But they're not necessarily good simply based on that fact (as I'm sure you know). That said, maybe you'll enjoy it. I didn't (clearly).

Isabella Kratynski said...

Annoying and didactic! Yes! I read this a short while ago, and that's exactly what I thought. Glad I'm not alone. Doctorow has some interesting things to say, but it just doesn't hang together as a novel -- more like a dummies guide to social revolutions.