What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Cory Doctorow's Homeland is a near-future science fiction novel that takes a very realistic approach to subjects like government surveillance, torture, and civil disobedience. In this sequel to Little Brother, the characters don't always act within the letter of the law, even though the protagonist and his friends always struggle to do what's right. The language is fairly strong, and there are a few scenes of physical violence (characters are kidnapped, assaulted, tased, beaten, tear-gassed, and threatened with torture), but there's not much bloodshed. Overall, the level of violence is less intense than in Little Brother. The main, college-age character and his longtime girlfriend have a sexually intimate relationship, though it's not presented in any detail.
What's the story?
A few years after the events in Little Brother, former teen "hacktivist" Marcus Yallow finds himself unemployed and unable to continue his education under the burden of student loans. While at the Burning Man festival, he's given a thumb drive by two ex-compatriots, who are later kidnapped by one of their most implacable nemeses. Back in San Francisco, Marcus starts working for an idealistic state senate candidate. But he can't ignore the devastating documents he has received. Can he find a way to distribute them without imperiling his boss' campaign?
Is it any good?
HOMELAND is an engaging, thoughtful, and impassioned exploration of the ways in which technology fosters and inhibits communication and security. Though it may not have the immediacy and novelty of its predecessor, Little Brother, it still vividly addresses issues that should concern anyone who values his or her privacy.
Marcus and his rough-and-tumble hacker compatriots are an intriguing bunch, and they're pitted against some ruthless and equally resourceful villains. Author Cory Doctorow knows how to keep raising the stakes, delivering plenty of suspense without resorting to cheap plot tricks. The narration sometimes descends into jargon, but Doctorow does his best to explicate clearly the science and engineering behind the high-tech gadgetry. This is a book likely to inspire readers, to shake them up, make them mad and point them in new directions to channel that energy.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how much leeway the government should be given to spy on citizens in the event of a catastrophic emergency. Is it OK if officials have critical knowledge about the situation?
How would you feel if the police were able to download the contents of your smartphone without a warrant?
How has social media changed the ways in which modern political campaigns are run?