Little Brother Review

I found a lot of Corey Doctorow’s latest book awkward. An awkward all over kind of feel. I think I’m going to use this word more than I should. Perhaps awkwardly more?

Some of this awkwardness, I’m sure, was intended as it is written from the perspective of a 17yo, so there’s a lot of awkwardness all around. Then again, some of the awkwardness really hits when you can almost hear the brain of a thirty-something trying to put words in a millennial’s mouth.

Some of the plot holes were a bit annoying. At one point there is a “crucial” photo on a phone that this kid needs to get to a reporter. Personally, I’d think that the video of the in-book Karl Rove spilling the beans is more crucial, but let’s go with the premise for a bit. The picture on this phone is important and it, for some reason, needs to be hand delivered to a reporter. I’ve got to ask: is email just not an option? Back to the video for a bit; did he really need to give the reporter his log/pass to get it? Again, could this kid not upload it to a host and email a link? For a book about how technology can be used to disrupt systems, there was a little more sneaker-net used for awkward plot device.

Of course, the book is under a Creative Commons license, so it’s “remixable” (another awkward appropriation) which means that if I really didn’t like the story all that much well, why don’t I change it? I’m sorry, but no. I may add salt to a meal, but I’m not about to bust out my own personal wok. The typos were a bit distracting as well.

Props though to Corey for finding a sponsor for each chapter. I’ve never seen that before for a free book. These short ads began each chapter they were written with such a genuine Paul Harvey tone that they were often as entertaining as the story. Of course, if I were a sponsor, I’d want to a pay a lot less for the ads in the ending chapters. After reading the first few “this chapter is dedicated to…” bits the joke gets kind of old and you find yourself skipping past the italics.

The story? The story had some real points. The endorsement by the guy over at Black Hat SEO is what prompted me to download it (using the pretty cool but somewhat buggy Stanza iPhone app). It’s another “big brother could be here and now if we’re not careful.” All in all it’s a nice read. Once you get past the awkwardness.

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