In Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow, Marcus Yallow is a smartass who delights in playing Harajuku Fun Madness and in evading the security at his high school. He and his friends are caught in the post-bombing sweep after a terrorist attack on San Francisco. After a harrowing interrogation, Marcus is set loose. Though he knows he’s being watched, he also knows how not to be watched. And he’s not going to let Big Brother, the Department of Homeland Security, get away with this.
I didn’t like Marcus at first. You try sitting down with a know-it-all 16 year old who has a fixation on security and personal privacy. Just stop squirming long enough, and you’ll hear him say some pretty interesting things.
By about page 150, I was warming to Marcus as he learns from his friends and his parents what a jerk he is. Marcus’s emotional journey, from grief for his friend spurring him to start his crusade, to getting so caught up in the cause that he’s forgotten that grief, is moving. His confusion about and desire for sex are keenly observed. Even the skulduggery and trickery that drive most of the book give way to the simple power of the truth.
There are aspects that struck me as unlikely or heavy-handed, but that’s true of the news sometimes. By about page 250, when Marcus really started to grow up, I was ready to stay up a little late and finish the book. And when I set it down, I said to myself, That was excellent.