Book Review: Little Brother

Little Brother is a rather interesting novel by Corey Doctorow that takes place in a very near future America beset by terrorism.  There are some serious politics to this book, though nothing as anarchic as the movie Hackers.  Be prepared for it if you decide to read the book.  What I want to talk about is the depiction of evading security systems, software development, statistics and encryption.  Much of the book dive directly into territory that most people would roll their eyes at as being the provenance of geeks.  This really isn’t so.  If you’ve ever wanted a plain-english explanation of penetration testing and vulnerabilities this is really as good as it gets.  For this alone I would recommend it to anyone who works with, or wants to work with computers or networks.  The main character narrates his story and discusses the logic behind defeating a visual identification system that uses cameras in a school.  The use of math and logic to ensure the anonymity of the character in the face of his opponents is worked out in plain speech and is easy to follow.  It almost makes me want to retake my statistics and calculus courses…. almost.  This isn’t to say the story isn’t any good.  It’s pretty much a Young Adult book and and there are some distinct tropes; but is otherwise a compelling read for those with a like of cloak and dagger stories.  Thematically the characters are the musical equivalent of punk rock, as opposed to Hackers drum and bass kids, or Sneakers professionals who were Sinatra with a floppy disk.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book and hope other will continue to enjoy it as I have.