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Jennifer Government

by Max Barry

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,0021073,985 (3.59)85
In Max Barry's twisted, hilarious and terrifying vision of the near future, the world is run by giant corporations and employees take the last names of the companies they work for. It's a globalised, ultra-capitalist, free market paradise! Hack Nike is a lowly merchandising officer who's not very good at negotiating his salary. So when John Nike and John Nike, executives from the promised land of Marketing, offer him a contract, he signs without reading it. Unfortunately, Hack's new contract involves shooting teenagers to build up street cred for Nike's new line of $2,500 trainers. Hack goes to the police - but they assume that he's asking for a subcontracting deal and lease the assassination to the more experienced NRA. Enter Jennifer Government, a tough-talking agent with a barcode tattoo under her eye and a personal problem with John Nike (the boss of the other John Nike). And a gun. Hack is about to find out what it really means to mess with market forces.… (more)
  1. 50
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    prezzey: Two satirical takes on capitalism and consumerism in the future, a classic and a more recent work.
  2. 10
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  6. 00
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (fulner)
    fulner: Brave New world is a dystopian novel based on a world with too much enjoyment. Jennifer Government is a dystopian novel based on too much freedom.
  7. 00
    Zero History by William Gibson (mcuquet)
  8. 00
    A Planet for the President: A Novel by Alistair Beaton (Vonini)
    Vonini: Same kind of satire and atmosphere. Also a fun and light read.
  9. 00
    Halting State by Charles Stross (ljbwell)
    ljbwell: Both give a humorous-with-a-bite view of the future of global politics & economics with a techie bent.
  10. 01
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  11. 01
    Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer (fulner)
    fulner: Dark Money is the investigation to the How the Koch's influence American politics. Jennifer Government is a dystopian fictional work about 21st century world if the Ko hs ideology rules the planet
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» See also 85 mentions

English (104)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (106)
Showing 1-5 of 104 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed some of the ideas in this book-- particularly the corporate surnames-- but the story was mostly flat and unengaging. None of the characters were particularly interesting or memorable. ( )
  serru | Oct 6, 2022 |
I had marked another of Barry's novels to read some time ago and never gotten around to it, and the premise of this book was even more compelling. I'm generally a fan of dystopian science fiction, though, so this was almost guaranteed to be an enjoyable read. Still Jennifer Government provides a compelling...and extremely timely...story.

The setting is a near future in which America has overtaken a number of other countries and thus spread the dominance of a handful of major corporations through most of the world. Taxes in American countries are no more, and an impotent government that relies on fundraising struggles to police the law against corporate forces, such as the ubiquitous NRA, which have the freedom to do whatever they like in pursuit of profit, including murder. In this future, people are born with no last names. Their identity is entirely associated with the corporation for which they work, and they take on the company's name as their last name upon employment. Children take on the last name of the corporation sponsoring the school which they attend. Being un-employed, or self-employed, leaves one with no name, no identity. One's life is entirely dependent upon being consumed by a corporation.

I should point out that, while dystopian, this is a comedy, and Barry's dry wit is present throughout the story. Characters, such as Billy NRA, find themselves in outright hysterical situations that leave the reader laughing while unable to escape the nagging through-line woven into the setting of every scene.

Not that the through-line is at all subtle. And, as comedic are the scenarios in which our characters find themselves, the development and internal lives of the characters are often flat, and certainly secondary to the story. The point of this novel isn't the characters, nor is it so much the plot, but rather the world which is its setting, and, while this sounds as though it would be completely dysfunctional and without any chance of working, it keeps the reader turning the pages with a surprising amount of engagement.

Barry's writing style is quick, overly abrupt in places, and this is one of the most prominent criticisms that I've read in other reviews. As this is the first of his work that I've read, I can't speak to whether or not this is his writing style, but it seems as though it's a device in itself to place the reader into this comically frightening world.

Many would discard this novel as an anti-capitalist diatribe, but doing so misses something deeper going on here. The future in which Barry places his reader is one in which there is no room for thinking against conventional wisdom. Critical thought has been over-run by marketing. Taking time to think, or to live or care for one's loved ones, means that one is not being productive in one's employment. Propaganda rules, and different ways of thinking are not tolerated. In its absolute freedom, society has paradoxically given up its soul.

This is a light and quick read, but one that will continue stay present in your mind, and in your perception, in troubling ways long after you've finished laughing your way through its pages. Considering the climate in which we live, the setting of this novel, which becomes its own character in many ways, is a warning not only of what is to come, but of what has already arrived. While a bit heavy-handed at times, this is still a worthwhile read for anyone who would like to have their thoughts provoked. ( )
  David_Brown | Aug 15, 2022 |
ETA: We finished the audiobook this weekend. I think that it was a really great book. The characters really drew me in and I love a good story with multiple (likeable) characters to follow. It starts strong and keeps going throughout the novel.

We're listening to this on audiobook and it's awesome. The stories in the book really draw you in. Attention-keeper. ( )
  MBTC | Jul 9, 2022 |
Jennifer Government by Max Barry (2004) ( )
  sharibillops | May 20, 2022 |
Clunky satire on consumerism and corporate avarice. Readable, but I won't bother looking out for anything else by him. ( )
  SChant | Dec 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 104 (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)
 

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barry, Maxprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schünemann, AnjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Also called Logoland in some countries.
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

In Max Barry's twisted, hilarious and terrifying vision of the near future, the world is run by giant corporations and employees take the last names of the companies they work for. It's a globalised, ultra-capitalist, free market paradise! Hack Nike is a lowly merchandising officer who's not very good at negotiating his salary. So when John Nike and John Nike, executives from the promised land of Marketing, offer him a contract, he signs without reading it. Unfortunately, Hack's new contract involves shooting teenagers to build up street cred for Nike's new line of $2,500 trainers. Hack goes to the police - but they assume that he's asking for a subcontracting deal and lease the assassination to the more experienced NRA. Enter Jennifer Government, a tough-talking agent with a barcode tattoo under her eye and a personal problem with John Nike (the boss of the other John Nike). And a gun. Hack is about to find out what it really means to mess with market forces.

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Book description
Haiku summary
We're pawns; branding and
money-making reign supreme.
The future? Or now?
(ed.pendragon)

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