I only know of Doctorow as an author, so in this review he will be treated as such. I won’t be giving an opinion of his political or social stances, which is where other reviews of this book seem to go. Like his ideas or not, Cory has a lot of people talking and a lot trying to dissect his books for the ultimate political meaning. I find this incredible, as peoples opinion about his work change on whether they like or dislike the organisations Cory is gunning for. I apologise if that’s what you came here to find, but as it’s a work of fiction I’ll stick to the story.
After reading and really enjoying “For The Win” two or three years ago, a story about child Labour within MMO RPG’s, I haven’t thought to go back to him until this book. There’s something about a man in a suit, with a copyright logo for a head that appealed to me.
Pirate Cinema opens with 16-year-old Trent McCauley leaving home after illegally downloading too many films and, as a result, the family’s internet is cut off and their way of life threatened. Without any money and with nowhere to go, Trent decides to run from Bradford to make a new home for himself in London. He luckily falls into the right crowd where he meets Jem Dodger, a crafty, resourceful and loveable bum, or gentleman of leisure as he calls it, and the reader is shown an optimistic take on being homeless, where they make more money an hour than I do . As enjoyable as it was to read, I don’t like the confidence I would now have if I was ever in that situation.
What Trent is passionate about is films and editing his own using his favourite actors scenes, but as a government bill threatens his ability to do so he takes every step he can to stop the law and to change the mind-set of society. As more characters are introduced and the situation turns from a small underground movement to a nationwide appeal, the story starts to lean away from what made it so good to begin with, which was surviving from day to day. Even though he and his friends are in constant danger of being arrested, or sued for copyright infringement, Trent’s worries seem to be only if his new girlfriend’s family would accept a homeless guy or what his family will say when he finally gets back in touch. Thankfully this isn’t dwelled upon.
Even with a couple of little snags in the characters I really enjoyed the story. It’s a real page turner that makes you think, not necessarily about how big film companies are ripping us off, but more about how much someone can accomplish with a bit of imagination, which this book is full of. Rather than making YA readers think about organising an uprising, I feel it’s more of a kick up the arse to see more of what’s going on in the world. As with “For The Win” I did my own research into the subject matter and have come to my own conclusion, feeling more knowledgeable in the process.
Just before starting this I signed up to a Cineworld Unlimited card and for a brief moment felt a bit guilty about endorsing the industry Trent is trying to bring down, but as I said at the start, this is a work of fiction so I’m off to see World War Z.
Feel free to tweet me what you thought of this book or any others.
The copy of Pirate Cinema I got was published by Titan Books