Tor, May 2008, $17.95
Every student in Marcus’ high school is under surveillance through cameras both in and out of class, spy ware in the school computers and identification cards with microchips inside that let the powers to be know where they are at all times. Marcus is a computer guru who lives to beat the system; he and some friends cut school to participate in a scavenger hunt sponsored by a large corporation.
While they are trying to decipher a clue, an explosion occurs followed by a mushroom cloud rising in the sky. Terrorists hit the Bay Bridge and a San Francisco BART station. Marcus’ friend Darryl is injured so they stop a Homeland Security vehicle. The teens are treated like terrorists and taken to prison where they are mentally and physically tortured. Three of them are freed but Darryl is nowhere to be found. Homeland Security has turned San Francisco into a police state, but Marcus knows the truth and organizes a resistance.
LITTLE BROTHER is a tense frightening thriller because with little spin it comes from headlines since 9/11. Marcus is a fighter yet a reluctant hero as he just wants freedom without insistent government meddling, peeking, and intruding under the guise of red alerts. Cory Doctorow has modernized 1984 with this exhilarating cautionary thriller; though one must wonder whether he will receive the Rushdie treatment from the Patriot actors.