I’ve just spent the last several hours finishing Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother instead of working on the term paper that I should be writing. This is his young adult novel about a group of kids that take on the Department of Homeland Security after a terrorist attack in San Francisco. Immediately after the attack, these kids are rounded up by DHS (hoods over heads in the backs of vans) for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Days later, they are released and warned never to speak of it but one of the kids isn’t let go. He is simply disappeared or an unperson.
The book chronicles the story, using realistic and chilling examples, of Marcus, a 17 year old high school student, to jam up the police state run by DHS that has formed in the Bay Area and to find out what happened to his best friend.
Living in the Bay Area for a couple of years now, I must say that the descriptions of the terrorist attacks, combined with the fear mentality that many of us see around us already, definitely had an emotional impact on me. This book speaks to something that is very real and which has already been happening in America over the last six and a half years since 9/11.
I’ve read all of Cory’s books and have been a major fan of his work, both as an author but also as an evangelist for certain principles. This is easily the best and most powerful book that he has written and I really do think anyone even vaguely interested in the topic, hell, in America and our original ideals of Freedom, should read this book. Don’t let the “Young Adult” title scare you off. This is a book for everyone but especially for the young.
I am one of many people that has become fearful of what our country, the United States, has become. I was fearful before 9/11 and the events and actions that we have taken since then, with our unjust war, our unconscionable holding of people indefinitely at Gitmo without rights, and our seeming embrace of torture as long as it stops “terrorism”, to be signs of the decay and possible end of the experiment which is our nation. I’ve never been a patriot towards over government but I have always loved the ideals of it even when we failed to live up to it. I am an American and books like this need to be written to help people remember who we are and the kind of people that we should strive to be.
I will close with a very American quote, mentioned, in part, in the book on a number of occasions. This is from the Declaration of Independence and it applies as much now as it did hundreds of years ago:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.