The near future's oppressive copyright laws criminalize creativity in the name of protecting it.
Trent McCauley has an irrepressible drive to create, carefully splicing bits and pieces of movies together into entirely new films. However, he gets his footage through illegal downloading, and when he's caught, his family loses their Internet for a year, nearly ruining them. His mother can't get her benefits, his father loses his job, and his academic sister is cut off from her homework, all in the name of miniscule amounts of corporate profit. Guilt-stricken, Trent runs away to London, where he's taken under the wing of streetwise Jem Dodger, learning Dumpster diving, squatting and panhandling. After Trent builds a family of fellow outcast kids, his creative urge leads him into an underground subculture of pirate-created movies in makeshift venues. There, he meets 26 and creates the persona Cecil B. DeVil. Pulled by 26 into the politics of copyright and the lobbyist money that purchases laws, Cecil becomes a creative figurehead for reform against escalating laws that aggressively jail kids. Doctorow (For the Win, 2010, etc.) isn't subtle with his stances; characters often seem to be giving campaign speeches. Fortunately, those rich characters are well-rounded enough and the laws close enough to already proposed measures that the agenda detracts minimally from the novel's success as a story.
For computer-savvy kids who like to think. (Science fiction. 13 & up)