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Jennifer Government Audible – Unabridged

3.9 out of 5 stars 267 customer reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Without rehashing the plot points of the book, suffice it to say that finishing "Jennifer Government" made me want more of what I had already read.
Max Barry states on his website that in the final edit, he cut about three-fourths of what he had written for this book, including one major character. After reading Jennifer Government, one wishes that he had not edited it so heavily. The book is a quick read - I finished it in about 5 hours - which is a shame for a novel which deals with such a heavy subject.
Character development is minimal - not surprising in such a relatively short book. True, Hack Nike develops a spine, and Jennifer gets even tougher than she was. But it would have been nice to have seen more.
Some plot points make little sense and/or could be developed better. For instance, why is Hack Nike such a sop? What is Buy Mitsui's background? If the Government is so ineffectual, why was John Nike (the one who didn't get crumpet-toastered) so keen on getting rid of it once and for all?
Also, it would have been interesting to see Barry bring what appeared to be a nascent anti-corporate movement to a bit of closure. The guerilla-style attacks on billboards and McDonald's restaurants seem to do little for plot development except to throw in some routine leftist slogans. I would have enjoyed seeing how this movement would have disrupted (or lent to) the growing intra-corporate battles.
All this aside, the book made me consider my libertarian/free-market principles in a way I had never done before. Science fiction is full of anarcho-capitalist fantasies (viz. L. Neil Smith's "The Probability Broach") which portray such a society as more or less Utopian.
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Format: Hardcover
If you've gotten this far in the reviews, you already know the plot to "Jennifer Government", a book well-descended from Kornbluth and Pohl, "The Space Merchants", and striving toward Sheckley's classic "Victim Prime". There aren't a lot of funny science fiction novels in print, and the most successful combine an insightful backdrop with snappy dialog. "Jennifer Government" makes it partway, on both counts. In the novel, the Police and Government are both companies with a certain amount of residual brand loyalty, while the NRA has the best shooters. When the Police want kids shot, they hire the NRA, as opposed to the Government, who, with 20,000 agents in place, seem to be unable to do much of anything competently, including preventing murders that they have advance knowledge of. In order to "solve" the killings, they require advance funding from the victim's family. (Remember the desk sergeant in "Heavy Metal"?) There aren't really any characters to identify with, which doesn't necessarily hurt if you want to make your ideas the funny part---which happens often enough in "Jennifer Government" to make it a worthwhile read, even though you have to get over Your Primitive Desire for a "Plot" of some kind. Thanks to Bob, I have no need for artificial constructs of this kind.
Given Barry's level of wit, as seen on his site maxbarry.com, I expected a lot more from the book than it delivered. There's a lot of cool ideas that don't really go as far as you'd hope, and though that may leave us wanting more (the key to good writing, according to Dickens) we don't want to pay hardcover prices for it. Still, it's worth having this one in your collection, and encouraging worthy Oz writers, so buy the paperback. Look for more from Max Barry, I have a hunch his next will be better yet.
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Format: Hardcover
The premise of "Jennifer Government" is that corporations now control the world, for all practical purposes. The USA has deregulated everything and now people are defined by who they work for, literally. They take there last names from their companies, which we learn when introduced to one of the protagonists of this little satire named Hack Nike. Guess what he does? Basically the story, situated in Melbourne, Australia, but also covering LA and London, starts out with Hack being approached by two Nike Marketing men, John Nike and John Nike. They offer him a promotion to marketing, and he readily signs the contract, not reading the part that requires him to kill 10 people in order to build "street cred" for Nike's newest pair of $2500 sneakers. Hack goes to the police for help, but they end up actually convincing him to subcontract the hit to them, and they subcontract it to the NRA, now a fully armed and operational rifle association. This sets the whole story in motion, and the story, for what it is, is well told. Jennifer Government, a Government agent with a grudge against one of the John Nike's, is brought in to solve the Nike Store murders. Other tales are woven through this plot, and they all end up basically where they started. It's an entertaining ride, but an empty one.
The story moves quickly, and has moments of pure hilarity, such as what corporate competiton would become when things like murder aren't prosecuted unless the victim's family can pony up the loot to pay the cops to investigate it. But the message the Barry wants to send, that corporations are cutthroat and evil, is undermined by the fact that there is really only one corporate antagonist, and he seems to do things without authorization.
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