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6 Best Cory Doctorow Books (2024)

Best Cory Doctorow Books ReviewBio

Cory Efram Doctorow was born on the 17th of July 1971, in Toronto, Canada. Cory is a Canadian-British science fiction writer, a blogger, journalist. He also spent some time as the co-editor of the blog named Boing Boing.

In his freest of time, Cory is an activist, trying to liberalize copyright laws, and also a big proponent of the organization called ‘Creative Commons’. The organization uses a portion of its licenses for Cory’s books.


Common themes in the writing of Doctorow – which are incidentally uncommon themes in the writings of other authors – are the following: file-sharing, managing digital rights, and ‘post-scarcity’ economics. SEED School was where Cory received his high school diploma. SEED School acted as an anarchistic ‘free school’ in the city of Toronto. Cory went to four different universities but didn’t acquire a diploma from any of them.

In June of 1999, Cory along with John Henson and Grad Conn founded the free software P2P company Opencola. It was subsequently sold to the Open Text Corporation of Waterloo, Ontario in the year of 2003. Doctorow is a very capable author and now we are going to take a look at our picks for the best-rated Cory Doctorow books.

Best Cory Doctorow Books

Little Brother Series


Sensitive Topics

Little Brother was published in the year of 2008. It is part of Doctorow’s series, featuring two other books – Homeland, published in 2013, and a shorter e-book called Lawful Interception, published in 2013, too. It is also one of the best-selling books by Doctorow.

Little Brother attacks and tackles quite the sensitive topics surrounding the overall dystopian theme of the book. It is centered around a post-September 11th terrorist attack on America. The plot takes place in San Francisco.


Our main character is Marcus, a teenager. He is a hip and tech-savvy person, attempting to stay away from issues with the principal’s assistant. For more similar books about teens being the main protagonists.

The time frame of the book is in 2015. Whatever frivolous and lighthearted teenager gags do take place, all, rather quickly, take a marginal position because of the attack. In no time, martial law sets in – a Department of Homeland Security with its group of thugs that are led by a lady with a ‘severe haircut’. 


The way that this squadron is explained and how it works pays homage to the Thought Police featured in George Orwell’s classic 1984. From here on then, Marcus declares war on the Department of Homeland Security, and we see Doctorow’s opinions on subjects like law and freedom, through the lens of Marcus.


If you’re planning to read Doctorow’s books in order, Homeland is the second novel and it deals with the economic collapse of California. Marcus’ past as being a hacker lands him a job as a webmaster for a certain politician that promises change and reform. A nemesis from Marcus’ past comes back – Masha –, but this time it’s Masha that is kidnapped, detained, and tortured, and the only person to witness it is Marcus. The plot deals with much the same themes as the former, but expands upon them, too. It might be Doctorow’s best book for many of his fans.

The final book, Lawful Interceptions, sees Marcus in the aftermath of a horrible Oakland earthquake. All of the technological themes are present here, too. These Doctorow’s books ranked as best-selling so the chances you will love the series are undeniable.

Attack Surface

This new standalone book from Cory Doctorow follows Masha Maximow, who works as a counterterrorism wizard for a huge transnational cybersecurity firm. She essentially created the hacks that allows repressive regimes to spy on dissenters. The pay is phenomenal, and the perks are equally as good. Masha was confident that she had chosen the winning side.

Masha likes to have some fun on her own time (and also piss off her masters), so she uses her skillset to help the troublemakers evade being detected, if she feels their cause is just enough. It’s a dangerous game, but the thrill Masha gets keeps her going. However, it will turn out to be self-destructive.

Close To Home

With all of her targets in faraway places, it was easy for Masha to feel removed from everything, because they were just strangers to her. She didn’t have to think about any of the collateral damage. But now, the hacks Masha has devised are targeting her friends and family. She has a choice to make, and no matter what she decides, someone is going to end up hurt – or dead.

There is no better book than this one that accurately sets out the consequences and dangers behind technology. It reads like a science fiction novel and exposé at the same time. We see a character who wants to do good but is living in a world where the lines between good and bad are blurry. This is definitely a Cory Doctorow book that you will want to add to your list!

In Real Life


Graphic Novel

In Real Life by Doctorow was published in 2014. Unlike the previous books, this is actually a graphic novel. The artist that did the illustrations was none other than Jen Wang. In Real Life tackles quite the odd themes: it has gaming online clash with real life as teenager Anda finds out what the secret injustices are that are shrouded behind the pixels of the screen. It is truly one of the best-rated books by Doctorow.


Anda is a very shy gamer, but she also has issues with her body weight. In one of Anda’s classes, she gets invited to join a massive multiplayer online role-playing game referred to as Coarsegold. At the thought of this prospect, Anda is delighted and elated. Her parents give Anda the thumbs up, and she joins the guild of the presenter. The guild is a small squad of girls playing the game as female avatars.

Anda’s online username in the game is Kalidestroyer. As what any proper thriller involves, out of the blue, Anda is offered by a player in the game – a member of the same guild as Anda named Lucy – a chance to earn some money. Anda, thought adamant, eventually gives in and says yes.

Darker Themes

As simple as that, Anda gets thrust into a world of real-world economies where the players of the game are actually workers, in a sense. They acquire items that they can sell for real-world money to others. Doctorow’s striking and visceral prose allows for the delving into deeper, darker themes. A truly great work, one of the best Cory Doctorow novels.



Four Short Stories

Here we have another one of Cory Doctorow’s latest books, and it is four stories in one. Each story deals with technological, economic, and social visions of the world today – and also what may be in the very near future. Doctorow is reminding us about the realities that people are experiencing in our world every single day.

The first story is called Unauthorized Bread, and follows Salima, who has moved from a refugee camp to a swanky new apartment in a nice building, filled with capitalist kitchen appliances that she is determined to fight against. Model Minority is the second story, where a superhero is trying to confront the corruption of the police and finds himself out of his depth.

The Ugly Truth(s)

The third story, Radicalized, is about the American healthcare struggle. There’s a desperate husband, the dark web, and a violent struggle against the American healthcare system. The last story is The Masque of the Red Death, and is an apocalyptic (and rather unflattering) tale about how an uber rich survivalist and his followers try to ride out the collapse of society, convinced their money can buy immortality.

If you read the reviews for this Cory Doctorow book, you will see that most of them look like this: mind = blown. I found myself cringing at times because Doctorow did not hold back on any of the ugly truths. These are thought-provoking and entertaining novellas all bundled up in one novel for your reading pleasure.

For the Win



For the Win by Doctorow was published in 2010. Spanning nearly five-hundred pages, the book is dense with the themes it explores. Like most of Doctorow’s works, this is a techno-thriller. At the same time, it is the best Doctorow’s novel for young adults.

It sees children attempting to fight against the malevolent powers that stand behind all the profiteering that goes on in the massive multiplayer online role-playing game. All of the virtual prizes and usable items come from the calloused, tired hands of children in sweatshops of third world nations.

Sweatshops and Gangsters

These sweatshops are commandeered and run by a group of gangsters. Singularly striking is how eerily similar, almost to the point of mimicry, our world is with this dark future. Some of the games include Nintendo’s Mushroom Kingdom and Zombie Mecha made by Coca-Cola Games.

Oddly enough, Big Sister Nor in Singapore along with a small army of followers slowly, yet surely, recruit and gather the greatest of players into a union with the potential to span the whole world unless it’s put down by the corrupt and evil corporations and the subjugating governments.

Online Game

The book gets so interesting and fascinating that the reader, at times, feels like they’re actually playing a real massive multiplayer online role-playing game, at the scale of the one in the book.

There is a certain fault in the book, though. It’s a young adult novel, and yet it spends an egregious amount of time and pages discussing the deeper intricacies of the economy in this world. It’s almost too dense for its own sake. Other than that, we think that it’s among the best books by Cory Doctorow, truly.

Pirate Cinema


Trent McCauley

Doctorow’s book Pirate Cinema was published in the year of 2012. We follow sixteen-year-old Trent McCauley. Trent, a brilliant teenager, has only one interest in life – making movies on his own computer by way of taking footage from mainstream movies that he gets from the Internet. It is one of the top books by Doctorow.

This, however, is against the law in future Britain. If one is caught while in the act a consecutive three times, one is to be completely cut off from the internet with no work, school, health, or money benefits, for a period of one year.

Family Ruined

Trent, however, doesn’t think that can happen to him. It does, though, and almost destroys his whole family. His father loses his job, his mother cannot get the benefits she’s been getting, his academic sister is completely cut off from her homework.

Trent, after this has happened, leaves for London, learning how to stay alive on the meanest of streets. Artists and activists are his only companions, as they fight against a new bill to be passed – it would mean the jailing of too many people, most notably ones that are minors.

Fascinating Read

The copyright laws of this future attempt to criminalize creative in the name of having it become secure and protected. The characters are rather well-rounded and interesting, leaving way for a fascinating read, filled with thrills. Though the characters of Doctorow are somewhat too liable to give speeches at a random whim, they do carry the story and remain intriguing from start to finish. It is one of the most popular books by Doctorow, maybe even one of Cory Doctorow’s best books.

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom


Debut Novel

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was the debut novel by Doctorow, published in the year of 2003. Oftentimes, debut novels don’t quite hit the mark as authors can fall into the rabbit holes of pretentiousness or self-admiration too much, but Doctorow does not.

In this book, that is the best Cory Doctorow book for many, we have the main character, Jules. Jules is described as a young man, a mere century old. Jules has, in fact, lived so long that the remedy for death has come and passed its fame, scarcity has ended, and many more things.

Living in Disney World

He’s fluent in as many as ten languages, too. His dream, though, ever since he was a young, brash boy, was to live in Disney World. Ad-hocs are the ones that keep the classic, older attractions running properly in Disney World, and they have only been improved with minor touches of modern technology.

Jules actually works at Disney World, along with his girlfriend Lil. Being as old as he is, Jules certainly has some anachronistic tendencies to preserve the olden. As such, when certain attractions are planned to be remade into virtual reality attractions, Jules is a bit hesitant. In fact, Jules has died and been ‘revived’ three times already, so when he is inevitably shot and murdered, though irritating and annoying, Jules is all well.

Invigorating Read

Jules along with suicidal comrade Greg ponder upon what the uninterested population does – they take up cryogenic sleep waiting until the world around them has taken a more interesting shape. Both of them are thinking of taking that path, too. Truly an invigorating read, Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is a pleasant read. It is one of the best Cory Doctorow books and doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.

Michael Englert

Michael is a graduate of cultural studies and history. He enjoys a good bottle of wine and (surprise, surprise) reading. As a small-town librarian, he is currently relishing the silence and peaceful atmosphere that is prevailing.