[Finished 16 February 2014] A ridiculously bad book. Where to start? There’s the whole propaganda aspect of the book. Everything and everyone in the book exists to serve Doctorow’s ideological argument. Then there are the incredibly two-dimensional characters, especially the narrator who is an almost archetypal “Mary Sue” character. Even the “flaws” that Doctorow gives him in an attempt to make him less of a caricature only highlight the ridiculousness of the character. And then of course, there’s the painful overuse of British slang. It’s like the unpronounceable alien names in bad sci fi but worse because Doctorow apparently thinks this gives his book dimension. Instead, it just calls attention to the fact that this is a book about a British teen written by an American. The discourse about how the House of Lords works is the biggest case of this. Seriously? We’re going to take a break from the narrative to correct the sort of misimpression about Lords that an American would have in a story narrated by a British kid who we can only assume is speaking to a British audience? A friend said that there was a good book hiding somewhere in the pages, but I really don’t think so.