Last night I finished the Young Adult novel called Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow. It was a pretty good book for high school kids. I'm not sure a middle school guy would get much out of it. It was a little tech heavy and I even had a little trouble following the tech tricks the kids used.
The basic storyline takes you into the world of teenage hackers. You are introduced to the main character, Marcus, and his group of three friends who also are very into technology and general high school naughtiness, like skipping school to play online games. They decide to skip classes one day and all meet up to play this real world/online game called Harajuku Fun Madness. This game requires your team to figure out online codes and riddles that then take you to real world locations that have wi-fi access that then leads you to a new set of codes and riddles. It almost sounds like the 39 Clues doesn't it?
Well, they day the four teens choose to ditch school and play this game is also the day the a group of terrorists blow up the Bay Bridgein San Fransisco, right down the street from where they are. Marcus and his buddies are arrested by Department of Homeland Security officers and kept for many days in a secret jail somewhere in the San Fransisco Bay. They are not treated well, tortured really, while jailed. Eventually they are all released, save Darryl, who was hurt before they were arrested.
After Marcus is finally released he decides to bring down the now very powerful DHS using all of his hacking tricks and a lot of hacking buddies. In the end there is a ton of action and excitement that kicks off with a gigantic VampMob organized by Marcus. A VampMob is a group of kids, all dressed as vampires, that go to a big public place and play a game where you try to catch as many other vampires as you can. You catch them by running up to them and yelling "bite, bite, bite, bite, bite" before they can get the five bites out. Can you imagine hundreds of high school kids dressed as vampires running around a business area of town yelling "bite, bite, bite…"
The story is good, I was a little disappointed how Marcus drifts away from the three original friends and never really reconnects with them in the end. I guess, now that I think about it, that is really how high school can be. You have really close friends and then you go your separate ways. It is as I said earlier heavy into technology and most of the technology seems to be real. The author includes lots of notes and articles in the back of the book that talk about the tech he used in his story.
Now the strange and wonderful connections I am finding between this serious teen adventure and the super silly middle school caper I am now reading, Science Fair.
Both of these totally unrelated books have a very interesting theme of terrorism and attacks on the USA running through them. In both books the federal government plays an important and somewhat bumbling role in the plot.
I certainly wouldn't put these two books in the same category by any means. Wait, I guess I would put them both squarely in the books for guys category. Science Fair is all about a completely make-believe nation called Krpshtskan, where they have a serious lack of vowels. Science Fair is a wonderfully funny book that I expect will all turn out for the best in the end. Little Brother is much more serious and takes on the ideas of free speech, free assembly and the new era of a tech filled world with a scary eye.
Isn't it interesting the connections you can make when you read a lot? I think reading for connections and just looking at the strange ways this world of kids lit fits together is really fun.
So if you are in high school and are looking for a good techno thriller, give Little Brother a shot. The newest Newbery winner, Neil Gaiman even gave it a good review, so if you don't believe me he should sway a few of you.
If you are in any grade and want to giggle and all out laugh out loud you may want to consider Science Fair, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.
I now have a wonderful problem. I have finished a book and need a new one. I think it may have to be Scat by Carl Hiaasen.