Little Brother

Cory Doctorow

Tor Teen



Trade Paperback

432 Pages



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A Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of the Year

One of the Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year

Marcus, a.k.a "w1n5t0n," is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works—and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school's intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they're mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.


Praise for Little Brother

"Little Brother is generally awesome in the more vernacular sense: It's pretty freaking cool . . . a fluid, instantly ingratiating fiction writer . . . he's also terrific at finding the human aura shimmering around technology."—The Los Angeles Times

"Doctorow throws off cool ideas the way champagne generates bubbles . . . [he] definitely has the goods."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Doctorow is one of sci-fi's most exciting young writers."—Cargo Magazine

"Scarily realistic . . . Action-packed with tales of courage, technology, and demonstrations of digital disobedience as the technophile's civil protest."—Andrew "Bunnie" Huang, author of Hacking the Xbox

"The right book at the right time from the right author—and, not entirely coincidentally, Cory Doctorow's best novel yet."—John Scalzi, bestselling author of Old Man's War

"I was completely hooked in the first few minutes. Great work."—Mitch Kapor, inventor of Lotus 1-2-3 and co-founder of the EFF

"Little Brother is a brilliant novel with a bold argument: hackers and gamers might just be our country's best hope for the future."—Jane McGonigal, designer of the alternate-reality game I Love Bees

"Little Brother sounds an optimistic warning. It extrapolates from current events to remind us of the ever-growing threats to liberty. But it also notes that liberty ultimately resides in our individual attitudes and actions. In our increasingly authoritarian world, I especially hope that teenagers and young adults will read it—and then persuade their peers, parents and teachers to follow suit."—Dan Gillmor, technology journalist, author of We the Media

"It's about growing up in the near future where things have kept going on the way they've been going, and it's about hacking as a habit of mind, but mostly it's about growing up and changing and looking at the world and asking what you can do about that. The teenage voice is pitch-perfect. I couldn't put it down, and I loved it."—Jo Walton, author of Farthing

"Read this book. You'll learn a great deal about computer security, surveillance and how to counter it, and the risk of trading off freedom for 'security.' And you'll have fun doing it."—Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media

"I know many science fiction writers engaged in the cyber-world, but Cory Doctorow is a native . . . We should all hope and trust that our culture has the guts and moxie to follow this guy. He's got a lot to tell us."—Bruce Sterling

"Cory Doctorow doesn't just write about the future—I think he lives there."—Kelly Link, author of Stranger Things Happen

"A wonderful, important book . . . I'd recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I've read this year, and I'd want to get it into the hands of as many smart thirteen-year-olds, male and female, as I can. Because I think it'll change lives. Because some kids, maybe just a few, won't be the same after they've read it. Maybe they'll change politically, maybe technologically. Maybe it'll just be the first book they loved or that spoke to their inner geek. Maybe they'll want to argue about it and disagree with it. Maybe they'll want to open their computer and see what's in there. I don't know. It made me want to be thirteen again right now, and reading it for the first time."—Neil Gaiman, author of Sandman and American Gods

"A rousing tale of techno-geek rebellion."—Scott Westerfeld, author of Uglies, Pretties, and Specials

"A worthy younger sibling to Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Cory Doctorow's Little Brother is lively, precocious, and most importantly, a little scary."—Brian K. Vaughan, author of Y: The Last Man

"A tale of struggle familiar to any teenager, about those moments when you choose what your life is going to mean."—Steven Gould, author of Jumper

"Seventeen-year-old techno-geek "w1n5t0n" (aka Marcus) bypasses the school's gait-recognition system by placing pebbles in his shoes, chats secretly with friends on his IMParanoid messaging program, and routinely evades school security with his laptop, cell, WifFnder, and ingenuity. While skipping school, Markus is caught near the site of a terrorist attack on San Francisco and held by the Department of Homeland Security for six days of intensive interrogation. After his release, he vows to use his skills to fight back against an increasingly frightening system of surveillance. Set in the near future, Doctorow's novel blurs the lines between current and potential technologies, and readers will delight in the details of how Markus attempts to stage a techno-revolution. Obvious parallels to Orwellian warnings and post-9/11 policies, such as the Patriot Act, will provide opportunity for classroom discussion and raise questions about our enthusiasm for technology, who monitors our school library collections, and how we contribute to our own lack of privacy. An extensive Web and print bibliography will build knowledge and make adults nervous."—Cindy Dobrez, Booklist (starred review)

"When he ditches school one Friday morning, 17-year-old Marcus is hoping to get a head start on the Harajuku Fun Madness clue. But after a terrorist attack in San Francisco, he and his friends are swept up in the extralegal world of the Department of Homeland Security. After questioning that includes physical torture and psychological stress, Marcus is released, a marked man in a much darker San Francisco: a city of constant surveillance and civil-liberty forfeiture. Encouraging hackers from around the city, Marcus fights against the system while falling for one hacker in particular. Doctorow rapidly confronts issues, from civil liberties to cryptology to social justice . . . Politics aside, Marcus is a wonderfully developed character: hyperaware of his surroundings, trying to redress past wrongs, and rebelling against authority. Teen espionage fans will appreciate the numerous gadgets made from everyday materials. One afterword by a noted cryptologist and another from an infamous hacker further reflect Doctorow's principles, and a bibliography has resources for teens interested in intellectual freedom, information access, and technology enhancements. Curious readers will also be able to visit Boing Boing, an eclectic group blog that Doctorow coedits. Raising pertinent questions and fostering discussion, this techno-thriller is an outstanding first purchase."—Chris Shoemaker, School Library Journal (starred review)

"A believable and frightening tale of a near-future San Francisco . . . Filled with sharp dialogue and detailed descriptions . . . within a tautly crafted fictional framework."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

I'm a senior at Cesar Chavez, High in San Francisco's sunny Mission district, and that makes me one of the most surveilled people in the world. My name is Marcus Yallow, but back when this story starts, I was going by w1n5t0n....

Read the full excerpt



  • Cory Doctorow: a reading from "Little Brother" Book Tour

    In today's episode of Boing Boing tv, Cory Doctorow checks in from his ongoing book tour for "Little Brother," and reads a passage from this latest novel. We also learn all about the contents of his hotel minibar, and a cool steampunk watch he received which shoots cockroaches across the room.

  • Cory Doctorow: a "Little Brother" reading (second in a series)

    Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow performs a reading from his new novel Little Brother. This reading (from chapter 3, part 1) is the second in an ongoing BBtv series.

  • Cory Doctorow: a Little Brother reading (3rd in a series)

    Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow performs a reading from his new novel Little Brother. This reading (from chapter 3, part 2) is the second in an ongoing BBtv series.

  • Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi -- one on one interview

    Blogger to blogger ... writer to writer ... rabble rouser to rabble rouser -- Boing Boing blogger Cory Doctorow and Whatever blogger John Scalzi join forces to discuss their new books (with a few special effects). Click here for part 2 of the interview

  • Sci-Fi Juggernauts Meet Up - Part 2 (Zoe's Tale)

    John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow continue discussing writing, pranks, and more. Their books 'Zoe's Tale' and 'Little Brother' take center stage.

  • Authors@Google: Cory Doctorow

    Cory Doctorow is the award-winning author of, amongst others, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Eastern Standard Tribe, and Overclocked. He is a co-editor of BoingBoing, a contributing writer to Wired and a regular columnist in The Guardian, Make, and Popular Science.



  • Cory Doctorow

  • Cory Doctorow is a coeditor of Boing Boing and the former European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He writes columns for Make, Information Week, The Guardian online, and Locus. He has won the Locus Award three times, been nominated for the Hugo and the Nebula, won the Campbell Award, and was named one of the Web's twenty-five influencers by Forbes magazine and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He hopes you'll use technology to change the world.

  • Cory Doctorow Courtesy of the author
    Cory Doctorow



Teacher's Guide