Homeland by Cory Doctorow Review

Official Summary:

“In Cory Doctorow’s wildly successful Little Brother, young Marcus Yallow was arbitrarily detained and brutalized by the government in the wake of a terrorist attack on San Francisco―an experience that led him to become a leader of the whole movement of technologically clued-in teenagers, fighting back against the tyrannical security state.

A few years later, California’s economy collapses, but Marcus’s hacktivist past lands him a job as webmaster for a crusading politician who promises reform. Soon his former nemesis Masha emerges from the political underground to gift him with a thumbdrive containing a Wikileaks-style cable-dump of hard evidence of corporate and governmental perfidy. It’s incendiary stuff―and if Masha goes missing, Marcus is supposed to release it to the world. Then Marcus sees Masha being kidnapped by the same government agents who detained and tortured Marcus years earlier.

Marcus can leak the archive Masha gave him―but he can’t admit to being the leaker, because that will cost his employer the election. He’s surrounded by friends who remember what he did a few years ago and regard him as a hacker hero. He can’t even attend a demonstration without being dragged onstage and handed a mike. He’s not at all sure that just dumping the archive onto the Internet, before he’s gone through its millions of words, is the right thing to do.

Meanwhile, people are beginning to shadow him, people who look like they’re used to inflicting pain until they get the answers they want.”

   Little Brother X by Cory Doctorow was a thrilling and exciting novel that I loved. Honeland further develops Marcus and opts for a more suspenseful and slower pace that produces a more mature and evenly paced novel that effectively captures the excitement of the first book.

   It has been a few years since Marcus became a hacking hero, exposing the DHS. I found Marcus to be a much smarter and mature character. His previous experience has changed him to be a much wiser person than his 17 year old self. That’s not to say he is without his faults, yet those flaws make him a better character, in my opinion. As the book progresses, Marcus’ development was well done and felt organic. Some characters from the first book return such as Angela and Jolu. Angela took a back seat which was a bit dissappointing as she provided a nice complement to Marcus. Jolu was a surprisingly big part of the novel and I found him to be a witty and charming character. I do wish Doctorow included Van and Darryl, a bit more than a nice little part in the second half of the book. I think the weakest part of the novel is the villain. The main antagonist returns from the first book and she was more mentioned, than actually shown. She was an intimidating and vicious villain in the first novel, but she is relegated to the shadows in this novel.

   The plot was slower and more evenly paced. While it could have been negatively affected the book, the slower pace gave way to some great character development for Marcus and allowed some of the other supporting characters to shine. The book certainly still has the big and action packed pieces that were more common in the first book, although there is a much slower buildup leading up to it. The book tackles some heavy subjects and what’s scary is that the events of the book is very much a possibility today. Similar to the first book, it never felt as if Doctorow was preaching that technology and the government would lead to our doom, while it was certainly obvious what he was trying to state, it never got in the way of the book. Again, like the first book, there is an immense amount of technological vocabulary, but Doctorow does a good job of explaining it.

   In conclusion, Homeland was a fantastic follow up to Little Brother X. A slower and more evenly paced plot opts for a slow and more suspenseful build up, but allows Marcus and others to shine and develop as characters. 

Rating: A Must Buy

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