book-reviews

Homeland

by Cory Doctorow

Rating: ★★★

Homeland continues the story of the central character in Little Brother, launching an out-of-work protagonist back into confrontation with a facsimile of the powers which harassed him in the first novel, with a bundle of secret documents to release and an aggressive corporate entity opposing him. In the meantime, he's got a job as webmaster for an independent senatorial candidate.

While Homeland continues the anti-authoritation and vaguely cyber-anarchist vibe from the first novel, it does feel rather like a continuation. The novel elements of the book, addressing the impact of the economic downturn and the bizarre nature of student loans in the United States, are largely subsumed in a storyline which seems to dawdle along over repeats of what we've seen already. Attempts at creating a darknet, brushes with Anonymous, humiliation by unauthorised authorities, etc.

Perhaps one sense in which Homeland does differ from Little Brother is in vague uplift, a growing sense that the population are opposed to the scenes of unlawful detention, the suppression of protests. An inspiring senatorial candidate who seems to have these interests close to his heart appears, but is left in somewhat ambiguous light -- promising political candidates have failed before, the enemy appears to be systematic in applying corruption.

A perfectly enjoyable novel, but lacking some of the originality and strength of purpose of its predecessor, Homeland could meet with approval from Little Brother fans, but other readers seem unlikely to be grabbed by it.