I started Little Brother thinking it was light young-adult SF about smart, net-savvy teenagers getting over and outwitting intrusive surveillance systems. Boy, did I underestimate this book! While on some level it is just that, it's also much more, and really is an important book for readers of all ages.
Little Brother follows seventeen-year-old Marcus who -- along with some friends -- is apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security following a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. After being held for many days in a secret prison, Marcus is finally released, but to a vastly different America and San Francisco -- where personal freedoms have been revoked and the city has become a police state. Marcus deliberates and uses all of his technical skills to protest and try and reclaim a piece of the America in which he believes.
9/11 was obviously fresh in Doctorow's mind when he wrote Little Brother, and the questions the novel poses -- about freedoms, privacy, security, and surveillance -- remain timely and important even seven years after the event.