Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

LittleBrother_withstickerTitleLittle Brother

Author: Cory Doctorow

ISBN: 978-0-76531985-2

Publication Date: 2007

Genre: Realistic fiction

Reading Level/Interest Age: 13 and up

Plot: Marcus Yallow, also known as “w1n5t0n,” is a seventeen year old high school student who is an expert at hacking anything that has to do with technology. He knows the tricks of the trade to bypass security cameras at school. On an average day, Marcus and his best friend decide to ditch school and conduct a meeting with their friends to play their favorite game, Harajuku Fun Madness. Once they are reunited with their friends, a horrible turn occurs and the teens hear explosions in the distance, which creates crowds of chaos throughout the city and leave them in need of help. Next thing they know, they are being detained under the Department of Homeland Security for suspicion of the terrorist attack in the city. Even though Marcus is able to prove that he is not the one who was a part of the attacks, DHS is still keeping him under surveillance.

Critical Evaluation: The critical element in this particular novel is the protection of a citizen’s civil rights. Doctorow clearly illustrates the teenagers’ rights to privacy stripped away from them at the start of their detainment by the DHS and their allowance of a phone call during the first interrogation. By incorporating advanced technology into the story, this makes these experiences more realistic in a sense that it is possible that this could happen to your average teen today if we lived in a dystopian society. The characters in this novel are key components to keep in mind when reading a book such as this. The characters’ ages, dialogue, and narration were at a level that teens could relate and understand what was being said. Not many teens can find nonfiction titles about hacking and computer science and technology as entertaining.

Reader’s Annotation: Stripped of his rights to privacy, Markus is forced to go against his own government.

Author: Retrieved from Cory Doctorow’s bio page on his official website

Cory Doctorow ( is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing ( and the author of young adult novels like HOMELAND, PIRATE CINEMA and LITTLE BROTHER and novels for adults like RAPTURE OF THE NERDS and MAKERS. He is the former European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in London.

Curriculum Ties:

  • Dystopian government
  • Civil rights

Booktalking Ideas:

  • How far would you be willing to go to bring back your civil rights?

Challenging Issues:

  • Dystopian government
  • Violence
  • Sexual content

Defensive Maneuvers:

  • I would be sure to study and memorize the library’s collection policy.
  • The Library Bill of Rights must also be brought to the challenger’s attention stating that the library is an information institution that provides both information and ideas.
  • Have both good and bad reviews (from respected sources) about the book at hand.
  • Remember to mention the awards and honors that the item has received.
  • Be sure to listen to the person who is challenging the book and do not interrupt them while they are speaking. Try to understand where the patron is coming from when he or she states their concerns about the material.
  • When you respond to the challenger, have a calm and respectable tone informing them that the library must do all that it can to provide intellectual freedom to its patrons, young and old.

Why This Book? This book is quite different compared to many other young adult fiction novels. This book dives into the world of science and technology and how it can effect a government.


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