Review: Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother"

I just finished reading Cory Doctorow's book Little Brother (to be released April 29th), and it was amazing. Yes, it's marketed as YA (young adult) fiction, but this is a serious--as well as enjoyable--book on a serious topic. It's about life in San Francisco after a terrorist attack that prompts the government to turn the city into a police state with constant surveillance, loss of freedom, etc. A group of high school hackers fight back, and make a lot of poignant arguments about freedom and fighting for what you believe in.

I read this book in about five hours total, I think--all of which were spent commuting on DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) to and from the TLA conference (which I blogged over at the TLA Blog). I highly, highly recommend it. And if you'd like a short taste of it, Cory's got a mp3 of himself reading a selection of it, available for free download. (Caution: novel (and this excerpt) contains some profanity and graphic scenes.) You can also read more of his podcasts here.

And here's high praise from one of my favorite authors:

"I'd recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I've read this year, and I'd want to get it into the hands of as many smart 13 year olds, male and female, as I can. Because I think it'll change lives. Because some kids, maybe just a few, won't be the same after they've read it. Maybe they'll change politically, maybe technologically. Maybe it'll just be the first book they loved or that spoke to their inner geek. Maybe they'll want to argue about it and disagree with it. Maybe they'll want to open their computer and see what's in there. I don't know. It made me want to be 13 again right now and reading it for the first time, and then go out and make the world better or stranger or odder. It's a wonderful, important book, in a way that renders its flaws pretty much meaningless."
-- Neil Gaiman on Little Brother (full review here)


Chatting with Gene Luen Yang

My current Facebook status: Starr is SQUEE! She just got to chat with Gene Luen Yang while getting her copy of "American Born Chinese" autographed.

We ended up, I realized, talking about homemade tamales and how my family was probably the whitest family who ever had a Christmas tradition of making authentic tamales. I think this came somehow out of my telling Gene I was born in CA (he's from Oakland) and first read his book there... and then something about only being able to live in states without winter and with authentic Mexican food.

Man, I can babble. (Shudder.)

It was awesome, though--he's easy to talk to, and I got to tell him what I really wanted, which was how glad and impressed I was that his faith shows through in this book. I kept thinking, while reading it, "Is he saying...? That seems like a Christian theme..." --the dedication of his book gave another clue, and then his website shows more of his Catholic comics and the fact that he teaches at a Catholic high school. (I also asked him how he manages teaching and writing comics--he said it's particularly hard right now, and he's going to be teaching just part-time next year. Kudos for him! Yay for making a living off of art!!)

This makes up for all the other authors that I've missed autographing at TLA and ALA conferences. Plus, I think this is the first comic I've ever had autographed... haven't had that many books autographed, actually. It's been, ahem, mostly action figures. Of Star Wars characters. But then, I've been going to scifi conventions longer than I've been going to library conferences.

Now, if I could just get one of my Gaiman books autographed... I'd pick Death: The High Cost of Living, for sure. Oh wait, Stardust. Dangit.

Er... and I'm actually doing quite a bit of blogging, and soon should have a whole load of TLA photos up on my Flickr page--it's just all at the TLA blog at the moment. I'll probably update those links here next week--I'm primarily linking to content that I post on my wiki, anyway.


Gene Luen Yang at TLA!

I'm preparing for TLA's Annual Conference next week, printing fliers, picking out sessions to attend, and jotting down oh so many meetings on my schedule. (Speaking of which, I'm particularly happy it's in Dallas this year. I get to sleep in my own bed, see my husband each night, and I'm finally going to get to make use of Dallas's growing public transportation system. Yay!)

I was looking through the Friday 10am sessions, and blinked a bit when I saw a session, not only on graphic novels, but featuring Gene Luen Yang, the author of American Born Chinese, one of the best comics I've ever read, and the first graphic novel to win ALA's Printz Award, as well as to be nominated for the National Book Award, as a speaker!

I first read this novel a year ago, and was lucky enough to finish it while on vacation in the Bay Area--after which we promptly visited San Francisco's Cartoon Art Museum, where a few panels of Yang's work were on display.

I can't really explain the wonder of this work--you'll just have to find out yourself. I highly recommend purchasing a copy for yourself, and one for your YA or graphic novel collection; its clever weaving of three narratives makes it as suitable for college and adult reading as it is for teens.