Book Review: For The Win

I was excited to be able to do an official HiR book review, especially for an internationally acclaimed author. Really, I was happy to read a thick tome of investigation into the social interactions of modern teenagers and the digital economy. Cory Doctorow has skills as an author that I enjoy, especially his ability to take concepts and event of real life, shake them up into a story and present us with a very plausible near future, a-la Little Brother.

For The Win began in just such a fashion and I worked my way through the nearly 500 page volume in under a week. Well researched, check. Developed characters with believable interactions, check. Locations, real and virtual, check and check. An interesting story line and plot, well, sorta check. You see, For The Win fell apart for me because I couldn't get into the importance of the overall plot. Unioinizing the distributed workers of virtual worlds through the virtual world is a great concept but I just couldn't make it work out in my head. Maybe it's because I am beyond the idealistic stage that the book targets in it's YA market. Maybe my very centrist politics couldn't be suspended in disbelief enough to get into that aspect of the story.

In my view Doctorow wrote the story from the angle that oppressed workers need a union to emerge from under the thumb of their oppressors. I can agree with that, to a point - the "need" point. Doctorow danced with the issue in the plot, trying to make the heirarchy of the unions into a community driven grass-roots effort and I've spent time since finishing the book contemplating if the SPOILER ALERT!!!!!111!!!one1!! failure of the union effort was an example for the failure of such a organisation or if it was merely an attempt to provoke thought as to how the idea of a union needs updating for a modern hyper-communication driven society by showing a possible mode of failure.

I finished the book with a profound sense of meh. And, I didn't want to. In the end I felt the story ran a good 200 pages more than it needed to, even though the book didn't feel padded. The story just seemed that it could fit into the confines of a shorter book and be even more though provoking and relevant to a YA reader. Having been a young reader back in my, well, younger, days I know just the size of this novel would have been off putting for many. I know a good number of young readers can handle novels of this length but there is always that nag in the back of a teenage mind that there is something important that might take precedence over knocking out hundreds of pages. I can easily see the novel being applied to a political or economical theory course and and can hear the goans of much of the class as the instructor hands out stacks of thick paperbacks.

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