This book was absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t put it down, to my own detriment because I had to face the next school day with two hours’ sleep. But if there’s any reason to have to face a full day of work with no sleep, it’s a book this good.
The protagonist is Malcolm (handle: w1n5t0n), a young man who might have been my best friend in high school; he knows how to get around the rules. He’s an expert on making High School Life more bearable, from using the middle stalls in the bathroom, mirror programs to get around the school’s firewall, and rocks in his shoes to fool the school’s gait-recognition cameras.
He’s all about gadgets, software, and games. Which is why he and his friends ditched school that day, to find the next major clue for Harajuku Fun Madness – an ARG (Alternate Reality Game). Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, the four teenagers were taken to a secret location and imprisoned by the Department of Homeland Security.
When Malcolm was released, he found his city taken over by intrusive surveillance laws. Even more horrifying – his childhood friend never made it out of the DHS’s secret prison. Unable to tell anyone about what happened, Malcolm began a project to take down the DHS himself.
This book is an addictive, thrilling tale of how one teenage hacker can make a difference. While there may be some deep political messages or connotations that could be extrapolated from the story’s plot, it never felt preachy to me. This story was accessible, using techno-terms that many young people can identify with. Young People… Wow, I must be getting old.
And according to what happens in Little Brother, I am – “Don’t trust anyone over 25” is the motto, and sorry to say, it’s too late for me.
CONTENT WARNING – I usually review children’s literature, and as this is a YA novel, which is like the literature equivalent of being rated PG-13. Some harsh language and drug and sex references are present.