Published by Tor Teen on Oct 2, 2012
Genres: Dystopia, YA
Format: ARC from Publisher
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
Trent McCauley is sixteen, brilliant, and obsessed with one thing: making movies on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the net. In near-future Britain, this is more illegal than ever. The punishment for being caught three times is to cut off your entire household from the internet for a year – no work, school, health or money benefits.
Trent thinks he is too clever for that to happen, but it does, and nearly destroys his family. Shamed and shattered, Trent runs away to London, where he slowly he learns the ways of staying alive on the streets. He joins artists and activists fighting a new bill that will jail too many, especially minors, at one stroke. Jem introduces him to the Jammie Dodgers, beautiful brilliant “26″ to love and cemetery parties.
Things look bad. Parliament is in power of a few wealthy media conglomerates. But the powers-that-be haven’t entirely reckoned with the power of a gripping movie to change people’s minds…
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This was an issue book that took on copyright laws and homelessness, yet still managed to be an entertaining story. Set in London, the British slang and vocals were easy to follow, yet demanded to be read in an accent. This lent a slightly different feel to the story, although I couldn’t quite tell if it felt more or less formal than most American-based novels. It definitely felt different.
The copyright fight is a very current cause of concern with internet usage being so prevalent. It isn’t difficult to imagine copyright laws escalating to match the scenarios in the story within the next few years. I’m not sure if people will fight back the same way they did in the book, both legally and illegally, but it would certainly change life as we know it.
I didn’t particularly care for the angle that Trent’s homelessness was shown from. He never seemed to suffer, which I think is unrealistic. I can’t imagine that being homeless would be as easy as it was shown, with Trent always having shelter and food and never being exposed to danger or violence. If it were that easy, wouldn’t everyone prefer to be homeless, with no bills or responsibilities?
Overall, this was an entertaining story, but the issues definitely took centre stage. I had a hard time believing the way homelessness was portrayed, which lessen my overall enjoyment of the book. It did however further cement my view that Cory Doctorow as an issue-centric YA writer. He isn’t afraid to highlight controversial topics or take the underdog side, all of which leads to exciting and interesting stories.