In the aftermath of a terrorist atrocity in San Francisco a teenage hacker gets caught up in the inevitable security backlash. It's a case of the cure being worse than the disease as the fear of terrorism is used to justify brutality and totalitarian surveillance by the department of homeland security.
This young adult novel is a great adventure story but it is also the most political Doctorow novel I have read yet. This is a novel about post 911 America and it sails close enough to the truth to be genuinely scary. Of course the fact that the last book I read was set in Nazi Germany didn't help.
To be honest,I am not fully convinced by Doctorow's political beliefs but he is always worth reading. A word of warning though. Doctorow's depictions of teenage gamer culture are surprisingly inept given it's prevalence in his young adult fiction. He gets the basics right but genuine gamers will find his use of leet speak and his mangling of manga themes cringeworthy.