Review: Homeland

Homeland (Little Brother, #2)Homeland by Cory Doctorow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cory Doctorow – you upset me so much. Your books continue to rock. But, recently, you’ve gotten too real with your stories. They are still awesome stories. But they upset me because they make me feel impotent. All the ideas in Little Brother, For the Win, Homeland, and even Makers just remind us how stuck the system; how our momentary wins are usually negated within days and months.(eg The Occupy Movement) Please take a break and write something like DAOINMK or EST again.

Stupid griping/open letter to Doctorow aside, I think this is a great book. There’s definitely an increase in maturity of the narrative to accompany the growth in age of our main characters. The narrative pace of this novel is a lot slower, but it matches the subject matter well. In the last book there was a terrorist attack and a time crunch to getting Daryl out of torture. This book starts with a very large diversion at Burning Man that relates a lot of hacker culture and gives the book time to settle in. From a meta-narrative point of view, Doctorow is helping us feel the comfort that Marcus feels before his life gets flipped back over after he thought things had gone back to normal. Afterward the book is a look at how movements start, how the recession has affected people – including family dynamics, the dual nature of the corruption in politics, and how police departments now look at protests in the same way as terrorist attacks. As such, the book is most of the way along before most of the action starts taking place. But that’s not to say it’s been boring. I’ve had a lot of interest in the world-building and politics as I read this book.

As usual Doctorow remains prescient (helped by the fact that he’s writing “one week into the future” – or whatever that trope is). This book was published just months before the Snowden leaks and probably started its life during the Wikileaks and Chelsea Manning leaks. Real life has been full of the feeling that it leads to nothing and is pretty pointless. The book has a similar feel.

Also continuing a Doctorow trope, the character relationships are extremely well written. It is very rare for me to read books that treat relationships – especially friend and bf/gf relationships – as realistically as Doctorow does. Most books I read as nearly as predictable as rom-coms, but Doctorow’s characters are a lot more realistic in what they do and don’t put up with. And when there are triangles (or even more complex shapes), he doesn’t take the easy road.

I listened to the Audiobook (got it as part of a humble bundle) and Will Wheaton’s narration is great. It was usually pretty easy to tell who was talking and his voice for Joe Nas was incredible. If Wheaton isn’t working in animation yet, he should be!

Finally, it’s funny that two of the books I finished this month dealt with someone who could make awesome coffee. Like this one and The Intern’s Handbook: A Thriller.

Anyway, it’s awesome, even if it does piss me off that the world is this way.

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