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4.2 out of 5
9
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    Great story, showing a possible near future

    Outstanding, in every way. Great character development. This is a near-future world in which young adults and many others find no place for themselves in the world of disposable employees, vast debt (including for higher education), and the gig economy. Doctorow has extrapolated from the "maker" movement and crowd-sourced intelligence, and has envisaged a world where many people simply walk away from the dominant society, and make their own society, largely on the outskirts, and with few external dependencies. Of course, the dominant society dismisses, and then actively opposes, the movement. This work is important, not just entertaining. It addresses people of today, who are not able to thrive in the mainstream world of the 21st century, and considers what the future could bring. It is in some ways a descendant of Kerouac's "On the Road" or the Merry Pranksters' journey as described in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Trip." At the same time, Doctorow is not just telling a story, but also providing a blueprint of the possible future he presents. BF Skinner's "Walden Two" made a similar attempt, and this type of future blueprinting success is not measured only by the actuality of the future emerging, but by simply shifting the cultural dialog of the time. Or, you can forget about all of that and enjoy the story. It's got artificial intelligence, features fast-paced chase scenes and hairsbreadth escapes, believable characters, and shadowy villains.
9

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