I got this Hugo-nominated novel for free from Doctorow’s site, you should, too! Right now. Go do it.
Without an e-book reader, I was stuck staring at my computer for HOURS reading the book in .pdf form. I took a couple of breaks to check e-mail and whatnot, but otherwise I destroyed my eyesight in the name of this novel. This is probably fitting, as the story is about some computer-hacking kids who get in a weensy bit of trouble with the law.
No, no, I guess weensy isn’t the right word for it. Marcus (aka w1n5t0n) and three of his friends are out on an ARG adventure (while skipping school, of course) when a terrorist attack hits the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. This is bad, obviously, but worse is that the friends are caught outside after the event and taken into custody by the Department of Homeland Security, where they are all sorts of interrogated. Of the four kids, only three make it back out of jail, where they are threatened into silence about where they’ve been the past few days. Marcus returns home, keeping his silence, but when he finds his laptop (left at home all this time) bugged, he decides to take some underground action against the DHS and what they stand for.
The best part of this book is that Doctorow explains interesting things about hacking computers and the history of protesters and how his not-so-distant future rules and technology work without making you feel stupid about it. I was kind of glad to be reading it on a computer, eyeballs be damned, because I could verify his facts on Wikipedia (and then, of course, other sites) without leaving the story for too long. There’s also a bibliography at the end for those eager to learn more.
Also, Doctorow dedicates each chapter to a bookstore, giving me interesting places to go in my travels!