Well, it did it. This book defeated me.
There's a point about a third of the way through the story where a new IP law has been passed and a bunch of kids get brought up on piracy charges and found guilty. And our main character (paraphrased) muses that of COURSE the kids were found guilty, because the law was written to make them guilty.
And that's this book.
I'm sympathetic to the core argument. Current IP and copyright laws need to be updated, protection spans shortened, penalties made more reasonable. The hoops some people who deal in clearly fair use extractions from copyrighted material are forced to jump through are ridiculous. And so at first, while I'm not a huge fan of being preached at in my literature, I was willing to give this a try.
But this book is written in such a way that it's impossible to have a nuanced discussion, at least in the part I read, because all the people on one side are "good" and all the people on the other side are "evil." No one in the first 130+ pages of this book pirates for really selfish reasons, they're all just innocent artists caught in the teeth of nasty laws, which is just hilarious in its break from reality. And the real kicker is that there was potential here for this to work better. The author's extrapolation of the current trajectory of laws felt highly plausible if not likely, and the claustrophobic dread of that sort of environment should be awesome. But instead, I just wound up bored.
Yes, bored. For all that the heavy-handed preaching of the author bugged me, the real thing that drove me out of this book was just that I got bored. Part of this isn't actually the book's fault. It's partly just that I was being asked to sympathize with, or at least be interested in, yet another self-absorbed, whiny teenage boy who goes on an enlightenment quest and gets some sex. I sort of wonder if I just need to take a break from YA books, but usually it's just not this bad. Maybe it's because it felt like the book wasn't written to tell Trent's story, it was written to tell how bad copyrights are? I don't know.
But for me, Trent didn't make it to interesting. His immaturity is tiresome, if effective at showing who he starts out as. He barely seems to think about other people, and he usually gets what he wants without any work or trouble. And when everyone around him seems more proactive and interesting than he is, I found the prospect of another 200+ pages with him too much to take.
I'm giving this two stars. For me, it was one star, but I fully admit that a lot of that's a matter of taste. It's well written, and the details of the near future he gives us are well-extrapolated. I can imagine a lot of people really enjoying this. And the issues ARE important. But I felt the handling was clumsy and the veneer of spec fic story that got stretched over the political preaching wasn't near enough to hold my attention.