In the very near future, Trent McCauley is a 16-year-old in northern England who makes videos by cutting, pasting, and editing movies starring a dead actor he's obsessed with. This isn't just a hobby of Trent's, it's his passion (much like writing Simon Snow fanfic is a passion for Cath in Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl). But it violates copyright and pirating laws, which is why the state cuts off his family's internet access for a year. Trent's mother is now unable to apply for her disability benefits, his father loses his telephone support job, and his high-achieving younger sister can't do her homework. Trent runs away from home to London, becomes a beggar and squatter, and begins a journey to becoming an outlaw artist and political activist.
Cory Doctorow has given us an exciting, engaging, postpunk coming of age story and a diatribe against government bought out by special interests (in this case, the entertainment industry) that care far more for their profits than the well-being of our culture. Doctorow wears his politics on his sleeve, and if you don't share his politics and his concerns, this might put you off. But I loved it. Trent (a.k.a. "Cecil B. DeVil") is absolutely lovable, especially when he realizes when he's being an idiot. And he's surrounded by lovable characters: Jem, Chester, Rabid Dog, Dodger, Rob, and especially 26 and Trent's sister, Cora. Pirate Cinema is very much rooted in real, contemporary laws in the UK. It made me depressed about the future of our popular culture and the tools we use to contribute to our culture. But Doctorow's passionate writing also made me hopeful that we can win out in the end.