On this Friday of the Great White Snowstorm of 2008, I waded my way here through knee-high snow (uphill both ways, of course!) to bring you our #3 pick...
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow!
This may possibly be the most intelligent, hip, fun and seriously freaky book that I've read this year. In near-future San Francisco, 17-year-old supersmart techno-geek Marcus and his friends decide to skip school to play some virtual scavenger hunt, which is why they're on the streets when terrorists blow up the Bay Bridge. Picked up, beaten, interrogated, terrorized, and held by the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) as suspected terrorists, Marcus and most of his friends are eventually released to go home to their totally freaked out parents. The catch is, the DHS threatens them with their lives if they ever tell anyone where they were or what happened to them while they were 'detained.'
When Marcus gets home, he quickly realizes that in post-Bay Bridge San Francisco, the DHS is everywhere, and they're always watching. Instead of just taking it in the name of patriotism, like everyone else (including his parents), Marcus decides to do something, and after venting his rage online he inadvertantly becomes the leader of a techno-revolution against the DHS.
Questioning the meaning of patriotism, Doctorow takes a powerful, freak-you-out-'cause-they're-always-watching look at what happens when the government decides to favor national freedom over personal freedom. The technology in this book is amazing, and the most awesome thing about it is that it's all the real thing (Doctorow is the original whiz kid - check out his blog at http://boingboing.net/ - the gadgets are awesome!).
So what happens when the teens of San Francisco, led by Marcus, mount an insurrection against the government? You'll have to read Little Brother to find out, but I'd bet on the kid.
(who is optimistically going to finish The Smile at lunch today and will be starting Nation by Terry Pratchett!)
P.S. Neil Gaiman and Scott Westerfeld (two made of awesome authors) both loved Little Brother, and what better endorsement can I give than theirs?