Big Brother VS. Little Brother: LITTLE BROTHER

LITTLE BROTHER: Little Brother by Corey Doctrow (2008)

This novel is a fantastic reinterpretation of George Orwell’s classic Nineteen Eighty-Four and is written for teens. I found that Doctrow did a good job at reinventing this classic and found he made the world Orwell created in Nineteen Eighty-Four more relatable to us who were born after 1984. This book made me laugh a lot and I found myself really caring for the main character “w1n5t0n.”  This is definitely one of the more literary YA novels that I have read in while.  For all you teachers out there, don’t torture today’s student with 1984, but perhaps, let them read Little Brother….just saying!

Summary: Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.

Big Brother VS. Little Brother: BIG BROTHER

BIG BROTHER: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell was written in 1949 and is a dystopian science fiction novel about the future of America. It is everything the liberals fight against: mind control, perpetual war, government surveillance and propaganda.

Overall, I found this novel very hard to read and complete.  It portrays a very unreasonable society where ignorance is praised and common sense is punished. As you can read on the poster to the left, this is just one example of the many propaganda we are shown and it is very hard to swallow.  The main character, Winston Smith, is our guide through the new regime and Orwell does an amazing job of making the reader feel as uncomfortable as Winston does about how his world is being run.  He has absolutely no freedom: Big Brother is always watching!

Winston is part of a small group of non-believers who don’t agree with the government (it’s less of a movement, and more of a natural instinct), and these non-believers come in many different strands.  Julia, for example, is the character Winston “falls in love with” (which in this society, love is not allowed, nor does it exist). Coincidently, Julia feels the same for Winston and they steel away to the country, far from any eyes of Big Brother to break the law and participate in illegal love making. Winston is elated at finding another non-believer, but then he realizes that Julia does believe in Big Brother whole-heartedly, except when it comes to restricting love.

This book has been made in to many different movies, but here is the 1984 version of Nineteen Eighty-Four:

Overall, I tend to read for pleasure and this novel was anything but a pleasurable read. If you decide to take the leap and try reading this widely popular classic, good luck and don’t give up!

Pills 101 – Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

Valley of  the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann is described as a cult classic that boasts having sold more than 30 million copies world-wide. It was first published in 1966 and became an instant success. Jacqueline Susann became the first female author to sell such quantities of her novels, helping to pave the way for future female fiction writers, especially in the genre of chic-lit.

What are dolls: red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight.

Valley of the Dolls chronicles the lives of three female characters in New York City beginning in 1945, oscillating from each females point-of-view from ‘chapter’ to ‘chapter’ (I use the term ‘chapter’ lightly because they are more like ‘sections’). There is Anne, escaping from a life of expectation and tradition in Lawrenceville, Massachusetts. The novel opens with her perspective and I found this first part hard to get through because Anne is very well-bred and with that comes very little excitement. However, as the novel progresses and you are faced with the calamities of the other pill popping dolls, Anne becomes the one constant I came to look forward to.

Next we are introduced to Neely, the bright faced vaudeville performer with light aspirations of ‘making it big’ on the stage of New York or the movies. Neely is a few years younger than Anne and looks up to her for help and guidance.  It is Anne in the end who provides Neely with her big break and she shoots to super-stardom, but of course, popping too many dolls along the way.I thought I would enjoy Neely’s sections the most since she is always on the go, but whether we blame the pills or world-wide success, Neely ends up being nothing but an ungrateful b****!

Finally we meet Jennifer, the stunning beauty who has a controlling mother at home.  Jennifer’s mother is the sole reason she continues to seek out rich men (because of her constant nag to send money home), but in the end, Jennifer makes it on her own as an actress in Paris. I would say Jennifer ended up being my favorite section to read, but was sad they were cut short…

The three girls briefly live together when they are between marriages and each finds solace and destruction when using dolls. If you like the television show Mad Men, this novel reminds me of the era it portrays 100%, except we focus on three successful women, who still live under the stigma of being nothing without a man.

Overall I really enjoyed this novel and once I got through the first section I could not put it down (finished in about 1 week!).  I think this is a great novel, especially for young girls to read, since it teaches you about humility, drugs, sex and love. Viva la sexual revolution! However, this does not stop it from ending on a very sad note… (which I of course will not give away!).

This novel was also turned into a movie in 1967. Below is ‘part 1’  found on YouTube (the entire movie can be watched here): Overall, I thought the movie did an amazing adaptation of the novel.  The three fierce actresses embodied Susann’s creations of Anne, Neely and Jennifer to pick-perfection. It even helped me better understand motives I found a little foggy in the novel.  But overall, I recommend reading the novel and then the movie or vice-versa.