In Homeland, Cory Doctorow’s stand-alone sequel to the award-winning Little Brother, it’s been a few years since Marcus Yallow stood up to the Department of Homeland Security. With unemployed parents (partly because of his DHS run-in) and insurmountable student loans, recent college dropout Marcus is still dating Ange and looking for a job in his San Francisco neighborhood. Just when he scores a webmaster position with a progressive, independent senatorial candidate, he receives a load of incriminating files from former DHS operative Masha, who asks him to make them public if she goes missing.
When Masha is indeed kidnapped, Marcus must sort through the hundreds of thousands of files containing information about government corruption. Releasing the information—without linking it back to himself—is no easy task, as the teen’s perpetual (and justly earned) paranoia against the Department of Homeland Security, the police department and rogue technology thieves drives this high-tech thriller. Once again, smart dialogue gives the story energy as Marcus turns to his old friends from Little Brother to help arrange the information and evade trouble. As tech guru Doctorow returns to issues of privacy rights, he offers up more descriptions of cutting-edge, often underground technology.
The story serves a fine blend of technological expertise for Doctorow’s legions of followers and limited jargon for less tech-savvy readers. Now that Marcus and his pals have matured, they’re also trying to figure out where they stand in their relationships. This can be just as exciting and scary as dodging the DHS. This modern dystopia also rewards readers with a revelation of a disturbing future with a hint of the present—or perhaps a snapshot of the present with a hint of disturbing events that could infiltrate our future. Either way, it’s downright riveting.