Young Adult: grades 10-12 even though I think anyone can read this book. I did not find anything too bad at all.
Length: 480 pages
*Starred Review* Doctorow is indispensable. It’s hard to imagine any other author taking on youth and technology with such passion, intelligence, and understanding. Although perhaps less urgent than Little Brother (2008), this effort is superior in every other aspect: scope, plot, character, and style. Set in the near future and in locations across the globe (though primarily China and India), the story involves a sweeping cast of characters making a living—if you want to call brutal conditions and pitiful wages a “living”—in such virtual-game worlds as Svartalfheim Warriors and Zombie Mecha. Many of them, like 15-year-old Mala (known by her troops as “General Robotwalla”), endure physical threats from their bosses to farm virtual gold, which is then sold to rich First World gamers. Then these brilliant teens are brought together by the mysterious Big Sister Nor, who has a plan to unionize and bring these virtual worlds—and real-world sweatshops, too—to a screeching halt. Once again Doctorow has taken denigrated youth behavior (this time, gaming) and recast it into something heroic. He can’t resist the occasional lecture—sometimes breaking away from the plot to do so—but thankfully his lessons are riveting. With it’s eye-opening humanity and revolutionary zeal, this ambitious epic is well worth the considerable challenge. Grades 10-12. –Daniel Kraus
I don’t really know where to begin. I love Cory Doctorow. He is a mastermind of all things that I like. He had my utmost respect when I learned about him while reading his novel Little Brother(one of my all time favorite – read it if you have not done so already). Not only does he write, but he helps with Boing Boing website, working for freedom under the Creative Commons License where you can obtain all his books free from www.craphound.com
Anyways, this book is not a fast read(just check my Twitter book club account and read the posts). This is not a beach read. There are many plot lines and it took me some mental toughness to keep everyone sorted in my mind. I knew that it was necessary because somehow someway he would connect them all in the end. I think this book will really take off with the kids and adults that play online massive multi-player games. I have not done so in some time and I think that is why it took more brain power for me to follow. I felt out of the loop when it came to these online universes. However, the whole concept of being who are considered nobodies organizing and standing up for their rights is what is truly important about this novel. Technology has brought everyone up the same playing field in many aspects of life. We are no longer isolated to our neighborhoods, cities, states, countries. We can instantly work and play with anyone anywhere in the world. As the world is changing rapidly (I once again will throw in a Daniel Pink reference to his research) and reading this novel people who are in power have to realize that power resides in the masses. These masses have the power to create both good and bad. Here I am on a very small scale promoting books that I have read and loved. Just 15 years ago this was impossible to do. We only had word of mouth and the big companies to promote. Today I can read this book on my iPad, fall in love with it, write a review, and then go purchase the novel to show my appreciation.
I understand that my thoughts are not really discussing key plot elements of the book, but these are just some of the thoughts that entered my brain while reading. Do I recommend this novel? Yes! Is it an easy read? No, but not once did I skim and not once lose interest as I really had this whole novel imprinted in my brain. Any final thoughts about the novel that you would like to add? I would love to meet this guy and just talk. I find his thoughts and ideas fascinating. I think I will have to possibly travel to see him speak if he ever comes close to Iowa.