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Book Review

Book Cover



Author: Cory Doctorow
Publisher: Titan Books
RRP: £7.99, US $10.95
ISBN: 978 1 78116 748 9
Publication Date: 20 September 2013

When Marcus survived his last run in with Homeland Security, he never considered, or particularly wanted to be dragged back to the fight against governmental injustice. But when attending the Burning Man festival, the epitome of freedom he is approached by an old associate, Masha, on the run from the same forces. She hands over a data stick with every dirty trick the government has undertaken with instructions that, should she disappear, he should release the information onto the Internet. Returning home Marcus gets a job with a political campaigner, only to discover that Masha has been kidnapped, now releasing the information could place him in danger and ruin the chances of the city’s best hope. With the help of his friends, Marcus must find a way out of his dilemma...

Homeland (2013 - 414 pagers) is a young adult novel, by Cory Doctorow and the follow up to Little Brother.

Having read Doctorow’s previous novels, there does appear to be a general theme running through most, but not all his books, The Rapture of the Nerds was slightly different and personally I thought it was his best book to date.

Once again we have a lone protagonist fighting for freedom against an almost all powerful and corrupt government. This is a good thing if you enjoyed the previous books because what you get is more of the same, but I do get the feeling that there is more to come from Doctorow than this, after all Homeland almost felt like a rehash of Little Brother.

It’s not meant as a criticism, I can’t see many people turning on Tolkien and complaining that having written The Hobbit that he then went on to write The Lord of the Rings, or Herbert spending so many books on the Dune universe. It’s kind of what a lot of writers do when they feel that they have found their groove. It just means that fans will be delighted, the more casual reader not so much.

Homeland turns out to be a well written action/adventure for the younger reader. Older readers might find some of the sudden asides the book takes to discuss anything from politics to coffee making a bit superfluous, but then the older reader will have a greater breadth of knowledge to draw on.

Marcus is a well drawn character, so the reader has little trouble in empathising with his dilemma, especially as his real counterparts keep popping up on the news which gives the book a feeling of contemporary relevance. The book has a good pace, although the metaphor of the Burning Man as a representation of true freedom was a bit laboured, a bit like true political anarchy, a lovely idea, just a tad unrealistic. That said the book does fulfil a useful purpose of opening young eyes to the idea that the world they live in may not be as it seems and may be more deadly than they think.

You may not agree with Doctorow’s political or philosophical ascertains, but hopefully they will make you think and inspire you to peek behind the curtain of our seemingly well-ordered world. Even if you don’t get any of that, you will still get a well-constructed thriller.


Charles Packer

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