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Jennifer Government Paperback – January 6, 2004
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“Funny and clever. . . . A kind of ad-world version of Dr. Strangelove. [Barry] unleashes enough wit and surprise to make his story a total blast.” —The New York Times Book
“May be the most fun you’ll find in a bookstore this year. . . . Full of wit, humor and imagination, Jennifer Government ultimately pulls off its over-the-top conceit.”—Time Out New York
“A riotous satirical rant. . . . [Its characters’] excesses . . . make Barry’s world of unregulated corporate greed and unrelenting consumerism so frightening and funny.”—Entertainment Weekly
“The plot rockets forward on hyperdrive . . . fresh and very clever.”—The Boston Globe
“[A] devilish satire that made me laugh out loud.”—Dick Adler, The Chicago Tribune
From the Inside Flap
A wickedly satirical and outrageous thriller about globalization and marketing hype, Jennifer Government is the best novel in the world ever.
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Jennifer Government is a look into a possible future. Extreme, maybe. But gaining possibility every day. The fact that it predicted not only the unification of Europe, but its title as well (European Union) is unnerving upon a reread.
The story winds between many characters, separate, but each playing and integral part in the action as it plays out. The characters are well developed, and you wince when the bad guys get a break and when the good guys hit an obstacle.
Good luck putting the book down once you start. I still can't!
Those concerns aside, the incredible world Barry creates is both crazy and also not so far removed from our own world. His setting is a future world where brands have gone amok, taking the place of government, which itself has been reduced to a brand that can only operate where there is profit motive.
The plot has a very agile pace and is packed with a great deal of action. In fact, given this book was written in 2004 and offers such an interesting twist on the growing consumerism of our world, it is surprising to me this hasn't yet been made into a movie. This is not a perfect book, but it captured my imagination and was fun to read.
In a parallel/alternate, slightly futuristic universe (which will probably soon be reality) where corporations rule and people "marry" their jobs, some interesting characters can be found.
I found this to be an above average read. Entertaining, sure. I felt I was reading a sequel or spin off to Fight Club. It starts hard and fast but cools off and perhaps goes on a bit too long in areas. There isn't a lot of characters but the way they interact by the end of the book I'm sure I confused who was who. That could be just me.
Beneath the surface of this compelling caricature of the future, however, is an even more interesting story about apathy. Throughout the story, we follow the "good guys" who don't know how to stick up for themselves and keep getting into trouble, and the "bad guys" who are not afraid to do what they want, so the keep doing what they want. As we reach the end of the book, the meek grow a backbone and find happiness, while the tyrannical ultimately become the downtrodden.
With its political, philosophical, and personal allegories, I believe Jennifer Government puts Max Barry into an elite league of fiction writers along with the likes of Orwell.
This is a fun book to read. You really feel yourself connecting with the characters. It would make a fantastic movie.
great connections between the players, and a great story. found myself engrossed (especially the last 3rd of the book). did not put it down until i finished.
fun, funny...and (sadly), believable. well worth reading.
Top international reviews
Jennifer is so named because she works for the government – employees take their last names from their employers. The other main character, Hack Nike, is a poorly paid merchandising officer near the bottom of the pecking order within Nike. He’s promoted by two sociopath executive marketing managers called John who want his help promoting their new line of trainers in a daring campaign.
Hack signs on the dotted line without reading the small print of the contract to find that he has agreed to murder a bunch of teenagers at a shopping mall. Hack goes to the police but instead of starting an investigation into his allegations they take the contract on and then in turn subcontract to the NRA. Such is the state of the society Barry has constructed that no-one seems to be bothered that they are being paid in the name of capitalism for multiple murder.
Jennifer soon gets wind of the nefarious campaign organised by John Nike for whom she holds a serious grudge, but rather than being about any one character this story is told from multiple viewpoints. The characters weave in and out of each others’ paths and Barry does a grand job of interweaving the narratives. The farce escalates until two packs of corporations wage war on each other – their allegiances based on the loyalty scheme they have signed up for – with the government caught in the middle.
There’s some rather cute anachronisms carried through into this future world which remind me of the whirling tapes and CRTs in the 1973 Westworld film but all in all this is a much more accomplished novel than Barry's previous novel 'Company' imo.
The tale does jump around with seemingly unconnected characters, finding their stories firmly linked together by the end of the book. The pace is well done, and whilst it takes a little time to visualise the era in which it is set, it does happen.
If you like to challenge yourself and your world views then this is certainly a text that you should consider. If you just like a good futuristic story then Jennifer Government again serves well here.
I don't want to reveal anything about the plot, but the basic idea depicts a world where the government don't really 'exist' as we know it, and almost everything is done in the Private Sector.
The author also created a long running online game that links to the book, I can't mention more about that here but there is a link to it in the book.
"Jennifer " has a splendid dystopian view ,the global brand is the new god alive with a class system based on you being literally a part of a brand
Where it falls down for me is the main characters portrayed here are straight out a script for a hollywood film, Jennifer is ex super brand woman,martial arts expert , sexy single mum,government agent,Buy is a fallen man looking for redemption,John Nike is super villian, far too many cliches here for me
Compare it as I did with the more believable and rounded characters of Orwells Smith and Attwoods Offred and I was left disappointed.
Interesting concept, hence 3 stars, but I got bored halfway through and so far haven't been bothered to try again and finish it.
Anyway, this book is a brilliant read. BUY IT!