Trent McCauley is sixteen, brilliant, and obsessed with one thing: making movies on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the net. In near-future Britain, this is more illegal than ever. The punishment for being caught three times is to cut off your entire household from the internet for a year – no work, school, health or money benefits.
Trent thinks he is too clever for that to happen, but it does, and nearly destroys his family. Shamed and shattered, Trent runs away to London, where slowly he learns the ways of staying alive on the streets. He joins artists and activists fighting a new bill that will jail too many, especially minors, at one stroke. Jem introduces him to the Jammie Dodgers, beautiful brilliant “26” to love and cemetery parties.
Things look bad. Parliament is in power of a few wealthy media conglomerates. But the powers-that-be haven’t entirely reckoned with the power of a gripping movie to change people’s minds
“Ooh,” he said again. “Bring me boxes, will you? More boxes.” I went and wrestled another set of cardboard flats off the pile and slipped them out of their band. Jem vaulted the skip’s edge and held a hand out. I gave him a box, listened to the sound of things being moved about inside. Then his hand came out again, and I passed him another box. Then another. “Come see,” he said, and I stood on tiptoe to peer over the edge. Jem had used the boxes to make a sort of corridor through the food and other rubbish, like a miner’s tunnel, and he was turning over the skip’s contents, and he was building a tower of tins in one corner of it. “I was hoping for this,” he said. “Oh, yes.” He stacked more tins. I peered at the labels. GOURMET COCONUT MILK, the nearest one read. REINDEER MEAT, another read. FILIPINO SARDINES. REFRIED BEANS.