Little Brother is essentially about the effects of fear and its unhappy results to one young man, Marcus Yallow, who attempts to ‘fight’ his own government, Homeland Security to be precise. As a young man of about 17 Marcus is a computer guru to many of his peers. Writer Doctorow goes to some lengths to demonstrate Marcus’ ability to thwart the governmental security measures at his high school.
This is a future where students are tracked within the school at all times by their very movements. All people in fact must have special cards that are used by the DHS to know the whereabouts of each individual in the city of San Francisco. There are agents that arrest the various people who are ‘suspicious’. So this is a future where life in America has become untenable. Interestingly Mr. Doctorow calls this a ‘teenage novel’, I didn’t know that Little Brother was geared towards youth until a few minutes ago as I was looking through the Internet about it. But I do understand now, in that, the tone of the piece was understated.
As the book proceeds Marcus is shown to be a natural leader, one who can gather his friends and others into a meaningful direction. His core of friends are heavily involved in computer games that are also played in real life and life goes on as usual in this environment. That is until there is a terrorist bombing of a large San Francisco Bridge… not the Golden Gate, but another bridge that kills about 4000 people or so. Marcus and his young friends happen to have been playing hooky at the time and are ’rounded up’ by the DHS to be held on ‘treasure island’ which is Alcatraz, which has been modernized. It is here where Marcus is kept prisoner without many rights apparently. He is eventually released and he begins his quest to gain someenge on Homeland Security.
Marcus finds a new girlfriend and a number of adventures occur wherein Marcus stages a number of events to gather his friends. Mr. Doctorow is pretty good at showing a young person who has some growing up to do. In fact I was pretty surprised that Marcus is a ‘white’ person. I was sure that he was black but he is explained as being white… interesting. There are a number of things that are missing that would have given Mr. Doctorow’s work a bit more depth. A bit more plot or some more surprise would have been wiser in my estimation. Yet I was pretty surprised to see this content since there is little protest in this nation to it’s ‘outer arms’. There is truth here though, in that a mass of people afraid and trusting in their government allows said government to abridge it’s constitution, to the demise of it’s own purpose. This isn’t far fetched in the least, as we have already seen that our government is well on its way to the torture of others as portrayed in the book.
This sort of Ignorance isn’t anything new and we will surely be seeing something like this in the future of this nation, still in my respective opinion, things will likely be much worse than Mr. Doctorow’s interesting little book.