Trent is obsessed with splicing together movies of his favourite actor Scot Colford and creating new mash-up videos. This hobby of illegally downloading movies gets Trent’s household cut off from the internet. Full of shame and guilt, he runs away to London and befriends a group of squatters and activists set on changing the increasingly tight internet laws.
I hadn’t even heard of this book until it was chosen for our book club read, and I was surprised how appropriate and relevant it was. Published in 2012, Pirate Cinema reads like it takes place in the present day or near future with many of the concerns and problems that the characters face very relatable.
Very early on the novel reminded me a bit of V For Vendetta with the anarchistic vigilante “fight the government” vibe to the whole plot. The overall premise I really enjoyed but I felt it was a tad too long and wordy at times. There was a lot of technological and political jargon that I found a bit hard to follow at times even though those topics are not generally unknown to me. Parts of Trent’s diatribes did start feeling a bit like propaganda, in the sense that it was getting pretty preachy for me on all the good creativity that comes with illegal downloading and the boo!! hiss!! down with the bad of the government stifling creativity. I get it. I get the sentiment, and I definitely think Doctorow drove his point home – and then some.
I did enjoy the extent to which some of the characters and their relationships were developed. There was a lot of time to fully flesh out certain characters and some of the scenes with Trent and his family were just so heartbreaking and sad. Oddly enough, as I was reading this book, the local news was talking about how there was a court ruling that ordered an internet service provider to hand over the information of about 2000 IP addresses who had illegally downloaded. Pirate Cinema touches on some very real and very relevant issues that are still very prevalent. I think Doctorow may have succeeded in inspiring some of his readers to take notice, take action and, at the very least, made us all more aware.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)
Available: October 2, 2012
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Read as part of Brunch Book Club with Lost in a Great Book.
Wrap up discussion to follow in the coming week.