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Jennifer Government by Max Barry
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Jennifer Government

by Max Barry

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2,424792,559 (3.59)69
  1. 40
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English (77)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
Dude, I totally got the point after about ten pages. Talk about beating a dead horse. ( )
  lyrrael | May 18, 2014 |
Jennifer Government is a novel that tries to have its cake and eat it. On the one hand it is an obvious satire on corporate power and greed and the inability of states to control these wayward creatures, on the other the story highlights individuals who by either opposing or aspiring to be major players in this selfish corporatism quite frequently espouse the self-same macho values that got corporatism where it is. While castigating the whole set-up Max Barry also revels in the rogue survivalist attitudes and actions that many of the characters display. Is it irony, or is he hedging his bets?

The action is set sometime in the future, the action shifting from Australia to West Coast America, with a foray to London. First published in 2002, a little over a decade on the book is showing its age, with references to technologies such as VCRs which are near obsolete. The stories of half a dozen or so individuals, all of whom have their greater or lesser parts to play in the final denouement, become enmeshed during the course of the tale. The problem is that most of them have characters that are either unattractive or inadequate or both, so much so that we care little about them except that they might mercifully precipitate a final resolution. There are also manifold plot absurdities, such as key power players relying on weak individuals to accomplish their dirty deeds with little or frequently no fall-back or back-up, not to mention security forces who fail to follow basic military good practice. Quite clearly a full plot synopsis would be pointless.

The major villain gets their come-uppance at the end, but it is done in so unsatisfying a way that it feels that the author had either got as bored as potential readers or was leaving the way open for a sequel. For the sake of the reading public I sincerely hope it’s not the latter reason. Jennifer Government is a lacklustre dystopian novel, one to neither keep nor pass on to a friend; in fact, just pass on it.

http://wp.me/s2oNj1-pass ( )
  ed.pendragon | Aug 28, 2013 |
This was the first of Max Barry's books that I read, and it took the top of my head right off. I loved every second, and reread it on a regular basis. Review is extracted from an academic analysis that I did of this book in conjunction with Gary Shteyngart's "Super Sad True Love Story".

"In Max Barry’s “Jennifer Government”, the world in which we live has been changed to one centered completely around Federated Economic Blocs, with a weakened and decentralized government. As such, petty concerns such as insider trading are no longer relevant, and corporate espionage is taken care of with a defense contract from the National Rifle Association. Fast and accurate information communication is the key to everything, from the eventual success of Jennifer’s criminal investigations, to how the marketing executives she chases were able to get away with manipulating matters for so long.

The social aspect of media and marketing is still very much an in-person experience, communicated through billboards, print ads, and, in this case, guerrilla marketing reminiscent of street crimes; what better way to raise the value of a new pair of sneakers than to hire someone to shoot the first five people who purchase them, and let the news leak that such killings have suddenly become common? The information that connects all of these events, and in the end leads to the mystery being solved and the marketing director behind the murders being caught, is a complex chain of emails, phone calls, stock prices, and computed viruses designed to take out neighboring corporations’ credit card systems. Information is more valuable than cash, and those who control what is known, by whom, and how, hold all the cards.

Though this novel was written before the ascendancy of Facebook and the social media explosion, there is still a considerable amount of discussion of intellectual property, and of what information should be readily available, versus what should be guarded. The title character’s daughter, Katie, has a personal webpage from her school that sounds remarkably similar to a MySpace presence; another character, Violet uses this information to kidnap Katie, and is noted in the book as being incredulous at the level of information access that will later, in our world, become commonplace. Intellectual property and flawed contracts are referenced in a scene with Violet where she attempts to sell a computer virus for a corporation to use on their rival. Having failed to read her contract thoroughly, she finds herself bounced from one CEO’s office to another, involved in increasingly illegal activities, all the while with the promise of payment dangling before her, never to be fulfilled. While digital information is not the key player in this tale, it is an undeniable force, and throughout the novel there are hints towards the major social media shift that would arrive a few years later in the real world."

In summation: read this, give it to everyone you know, especially those in information and marketing. And maybe hold off on buying those new sneakers for a couple of weeks. And maybe get rid of your credit cards. ( )
  themythicalcodfish | Aug 18, 2013 |
dystopian
  DionysisTouroukis | Aug 14, 2013 |
Well, I suppose some people might find this amusing, but I simply found it irritating.

The basic premise had a kernel of humour, but not enough to sustain a whole novel. This might have worked as a short (preferably very short) story, but extended to full novel length it just fell flat. It was rather like watching a school's end of year revue which just seems to go on and on forever, with the performers rocking with laughter at the cliquey in-jokes while the members of the audience try to look polite while hoping for the fire alarm to go off, calling an early halt to proceedings. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Aug 9, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
a funny and clever novel by Max Barry that's set in the ''near future.''
added by mikeg2 | editNew York Times, Rob Walker (Feb 16, 2003)
 
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Epigraph
With money we will get men, Caesar said, and with men we will get money.
Thomas Jefferson, 1784
... a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.
Thomas Jefferson, 1801
Dedication
For Charles Thiesen
Who really, really wanted me to call it "Capitalizm"
First words
Hack first heard about Jennifer Government at the watercooler.
Quotations
Yes, some people died. But let's not pretend these are the first people to die in the interest of commerce. Let's not pretend there's a company in this room that hasn't put profit above human life at some point. We make cars we know some people will die in. We make medicine that carries a chance of a fatal reaction. We make guns. I mean, you want to expel someone here for murder, let's start with the Philip Morris Liaison. We have all, at some point, put a price tag on a human life and decided we can afford it.
Look, I am not designing next year's ad campaign here, I'm getting rid of the Government, the greatest impediment to business in history. You don't do that without a downside. Yes, some people die. But look at the gain! Run a cost-benefit analysis! Maybe some of you have forgotten what companies really do. So let me remind you: they make as much money as possible. If they don't, investors go elsewhere. It's that simple. We're all cogs in wealth-creation machines. That's all.
I've given you a world without Government interference. There is now no advertising campaign, no intercompany deal, no promotion, no action you can't take. You want to pay kids to get the swoosh tattooed on their foreheads? Whose going to stop you?....You want the NRA to help you eliminate your competition? Then do it. Just do it.
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Also called Logoland in some countries.
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Haiku summary
We're pawns; branding and
money-making reign supreme.
The future? Or now?
(ed.pendragon)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0349117624, Paperback)

In the horrifying, satirical near future of Max Barry's Jennifer Government, American corporations literally rule the world. Everyone takes his employer's name as his last name; once-autonomous nations as far-flung as Australia belong to the USA; and the National Rifle Association is not just a worldwide corporation, it's a hot, publicly traded stock. Hack Nike, a hapless employee seeking advancement, signs a multipage contract and then reads it. He discovers he's agreed to assassinate kids purchasing Nike's new line of athletic shoes, a stealth marketing maneuver designed to increase sales. And the dreaded government agent Jennifer Government is after him.

Like Steve Aylett, Alexander Besher, Douglas Coupland, Paul Di Filippo, Jim Munroe, Jeff Noon, and Chuck Palahniuk, Max Barry is an author of smartass, punky satire for the late capitalist era. It's a hip and happening field; before publication, Jennifer Government (Barry's second novel) was optioned by Stephen Soderbergh and George Clooney's Section 8 Films for a major motion picture. However, the level of literary accomplishment varies wildly among practitioners, from brilliant (Di Filippo and Palahniuk) to amateurish (Besher). This field is so hot, its writers needn't be nearly as accomplished as they'd have to become to break into any other form of fiction.

That said, like many of his fellow turn-of-the-millennium satirists, Barry is uneven. He has a lively imagination and a sharp eye for the absurdities and offenses of hypercorporate capitalism. But, with its sketchy characters and slow dialogue, Jennifer Government will disappoint anyone who believes the cover copy's grandiose claim that this is "a Catch-22 for the New World Order." --Cynthia Ward

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:54 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In BarryUs twisted, hilarious vision of the near future, the world is run by giant American corporations and employees take the last name of the companies they work for. Hot on the trail of John Nike, an executive from the land of Marketing, is agent Jennifer Goverment, the consumer watchdog from hell.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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