Out • 30 October 2008 • The SnowBlog
And speaking of YA fantasy novels (which I peripherally just was), Cory Doctorow's Little Brother is now out in the UK. I've actually read it twice. I didn't mean to, but I really enjoyed it the first time through and happened to glance at it again and an hour or so later realised I was still reading. There are a couple of times in the story where I begin to roll my eyes and wonder why I'm reading something principally aimed at teenagers, but before the thought can properly take hold I get caught up in the book again. If you want to pigeonhole the story, it's like something that might have got commissioned if the ghost of George Orwell possessed an executive at Disney. It's set in San Francisco and follows one of a group of high-schoolers who happen to be out wandering the city, playing an elaborate game, when they should be in class. Which is bad luck for them because they get caught up in the human stampede that follows a major terrorist attack. Worse still, when they try to flag down someone official to help their injured friend, they get swept up as part of mass arrests of anyone who can't satisfactorily explain their presence at the scene. And while it's the terrorists who started it all, everything bad that happens from then on comes from the authorities' eagerness to throw away the rulebook and do whatever it takes to punish the guilty - even if that means treating its citizens like criminals. Marcus, the book's narrator, soon realises he's got just as much to fear from those in authority as he does from his country's enemies. Frightened and angry he decides to do something about it.
Unlikely to be your cup of tea if you find Woolf too cliched or Joyce too predictable, but I've always preferred rattling good yarns to literary fiction so I loved it. If you're the sort of person who doesn't turn your nose up at watching Buffy there's a pretty good chance you'll enjoy Little Brother. (Amazon link.)