Homeland by Cory Doctorow

Posted June 18, 2015 by Jay Magidson in Reviews / 2 Comments

Homeland by Cory DoctorowHomeland by Cory Doctorow
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Series: Little Brother #2
Published by Blackstone Audio Inc on 10 April 2014
Length: 11 hrs and 48 mins
Genres: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Rating Report
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Production Quality
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Attention Holding
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Overall: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

A New York Times Bestseller

Winner of the 2014 Prometheus Award for Best Novel

A 2014 Locus Award Finalist

A 2013 Library Journal Editor’s Pick

In Cory Doctorow’s wildly successful novel 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’ 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 thumb drive 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.

Fast moving, passionate, and as current as next week, Homeland is every bit the equal of Little Brother—a paean to activism, to courage, to the drive to make the world a better place.

Editorial Reviews

“Cory Doctorow’s stand-alone sequel to his top-selling Little Brother exhibits the same high-tech hipness, fast-breaking action, and looming suspense as that series starter.”

Barnes & Noble, editorial review

“While Doctorow is known as a sci-fi writer, none of the science or technology here is fictional, so the story hits close to home. The author combines excitement, romance, humor, and geekery with challenging questions for readers. Anyone concerned about the future of information should read this book.”

School Library Journal (starred review)

“Doctorow sends readers into a world of Darknet secret web sites, Occupy protests, kidnapping and interrogation, and hacking. The narrative is threaded with geek teen culture, economic problems, election strategy, corporate greed, government conspiracies, and privacy issues, and technology nerds will eat this for breakfast with a cup of really good coffee.”

Booklist (starred review)

“In this rousing sequel to Little Brother, Marcus has gone to college, dropped out, and is looking for a job—no easy task in this near-future America’s worsening recession…As always, Doctorow fills his novel with cutting-edge technology, didactic progressive messages, strong and somewhat snarky characters, and discursions that reflect his passions (a Wil Wheaton cameo? instructions on cold-brewing coffee? why not?). Fans of Little Brother and the author’s other stories of technophiliac hacktivism ought to love this book.”

Publishers Weekly

Buy from Downpour.com Buy from Amazon.comAdd to Goodreads

“Just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get me.”

Homeland is the sequel to Little Brother, though the novel gives enough of the backstory for it to easily stand alone. If you would like a synopsis, please refer to the publisher’s review, it does an excellent job and would be redundant here. The title refers to The Homeland Security Agency (and the NSA) and their seemingly insatiable need to watch and capture every bit of information traveling the airwaves. Our beloved cell phones, smart pads and computers are as transparent to them as any window.

Doctorow writes with authority and confidence about all things high tech, that which currently exists and that which is just around the corner. The listener is easily and comfortably guided by the author’s expert grasp of the technological nature of the material, neither overwhelming us with it, nor pandering to us. You don’t have to be a high-tech geek to enjoy this novel, because it affects all of us. And that’s where it gets truly frightening; because it’s real, not SciFi, not distant future tech, not aliens, but here and now government surveillance, using our very own gadgets to watch us, catch us and maybe even control us.

After listening to this exciting and thoroughly enjoyable novel, this reviewer was shaken to his paranoid core. It’s real, only the characters and the storyline are fictionalized. There is no question that they are watching us, Edward Snowden convinced us of that. Now that we know, do we go back to sleep, or do we follow the advice in the several appendices of the book. Doctorow clearly practices what he preaches, even going so far as to keep this audiobook off of Audible.com because of its onerous digital rights policy, very likely harming his own audiobook’s sales.

Wil Wheaton (yes Wesley Crusher on Star Trek TNG) does an amazing job reading the novel. There is even a part of the story where the main character meets Wheaton. This self-referential bon mot cracks the forth wall for a moment, something Doctorow seems to enjoy in this and his other books. Unfortunately, this excellent performance by Wheaten is slightly marred by the occasional lip smack or dry mouth noises that should have been removed in post-production. Fortunately, it is faint and should go unnoticed with ordinary ear phones or in a car. Don’t let this minor flaw keep you from enjoying an excellent performance.

If you enjoy high-tech novels, with all-too-human characters, this is a must read. Authentic, informative, exciting, and way too real. Homeland is paranoia developed to an art form.

Note: This reviewer has given Homeland his highest rating of 4.8. Only the test of time can earn a book a 5.

About Cory Doctorow

Canadian blogger, journalist and science fiction author who serves as co-editor of the blog Boing Boing.

He is an activist in favor of liberalizing copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons organization, using some of their licenses for his books.

Some common themes of his work include digital rights management, file sharing, Disney, and post-scarcity economics.

About Jay Magidson

Lover of books, Sci-Fi, 19th Century literature, young adult, and more, as long as it's good, I'll read or listen. I'm a writer as well, my weekly art column was published for years in the Aspen Daily News, Roaring Fork Sunday and Aspen Sojourner Magazine. I have 5 books in print, all pretty entertaining if you'd like to check them out. And my Sci-Fi novel, "Threshold of the Mind" was recently produced into an audiobook, read by award winning actor: Jeff Clarke (Chicago, Mad Men).

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