Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Book Review: Pirate Cinema

A while back I started Cory Doctorow's Pirate Cinema but then got distracted by a few other books I had going. I then spotted the audio-book version at the library and finished it that way.

Pirate cinema is a YA novel that is one part Oliver Twist, one part sci-fi, and one part copyright polemic. The lead character, Trent, a UK teen, runs away from home when his family's internet access is cut off after he downloads too many pirated film clips to us in his own amateur film making. After running off to London, he falls in with some other homeless teens, who show him how to make a living and work the system. They then turn their mischievous ways to fighting unjust copyright regulation.

The treatment of the subject matter is a bit blunt but this is probably ok for a YA novel, so I can see past this. The characters are fun, the story is pretty good.

Two flaws that make me give this a 3/5 rating. First, there were a few tangential bits of reference to tech that felt just forced (e.g. reference to Sugru). Secondly, while I was willing to suspend disbelief that the teens in this story could be as street-smart and tech-savvy as they were portrayed, the degree to which they were "foodies" just broke the illusion for me. There were a number of sections that went on at length about elaborate food prep that it's just not likely a teen, let alone a homeless 'freegan' teen, would eat. It read a bit like maybe Doctorow wrote it when dieting himself and was on a diet while writing it.

Those minor complaints aside, it's a fun ride if you don't mind the copyfight pontification.

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