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Jennifer Government by Max Barry

Jennifer Government (edition 2004)

by Max Barry

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2,691903,173 (3.59)81
Title:Jennifer Government
Authors:Max Barry
Info:Abacus (2004), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library

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Jennifer Government by Max Barry

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» See also 81 mentions

English (87)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (90)
Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
Interesting premise but failed execution. In the future, we're all run by giant corporations in a large free market economy. Things like law enforcement are actually outsourced to private organizations. Companies are willing to KILL people (as in, murder them) to hike their sales. People take the last names of the companies they work for (and change them if they change companies). It seems all and well and fine and we get the glimpse of this future when a young woman is killed at the release of a new product.
Then we're off. The story and the ideas behind it were okay. In light of the current election and looking at stories of tax evasion and breaking up big banks and yadda yadda, this seemed like an interesting take on the dystopian future. But it never quite gelled together for me.
The author takes us through various viewpoints, switching them between a bunch of characters (including some minor ones). At first I was willing to go along with it but after awhile it got a bit old for me. It also stunted the character development; as in there was just about none or it was VERY predictable. I very easily figured out the identify one of character's father (which wasn't all that important to the overall plot and it was hinted on early) but the predictable plotlines of these characters didn't make for very compelling reading.
One thing I particularly didn't like was a female character who started off okay, maybe distant to her boyfriend. Then as soon as they physically separate due to the story plot she just deteriorates from there and her former boyfriend ends up with someone else. I felt sorry for her towards the end until she undertakes a really desperate act and it just felt like the author needed her to be a villain of sorts perhaps to make the guy look better in comparison (and to justify his choice).
As a concept it was certainly interesting. I'd say if you were a fan of books like '1984' or 'Brave New World' this is definitely a book to borrow from the library. I didn't regret borrowing it since it was a nice change-up but at the same time I wouldn't rush out to read this either.
  ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
Is it wrong of me to compare this with Snowcrash and say that it was kinda lame? It feels like it isn't even in the same category. But... dystopian future where the role of government is more or less reduced to the standing of a multinational, where folks are strongly associated with their multinational[s]... Whatever. I vote: don't bother. ( )
  kwerle | Dec 13, 2017 |
Welcome to Max Barry’s corporate utopia. An alternate world where economic competition rules, where almost every government service is privatized, where corporations operate unfettered by laws or regulations to protect employees or consumers, and where government cannot even investigate a murder unless the victims’ families are willing and able to fund it. It is an almost feudal system in which companies form alliances to gain market share and undermine their competition (to include armed assaults), and where the population is fiercely loyal to their chosen brands.

This is the setting for ‘Jennifer Government.’ Despite the premise, which seems almost too possible at times, it is not as frightening or thought provoking as it could be. You don’t get the feeling that this really could happen, mainly because it lacks a lot of the set up and backstory for how such a system could have come about, and it only superficially examines the consequences of privatizing basic services, and leaving corporations, whose primary, if not sole motivation is making a quick buck, completely unregulated. The characters are not especially well developed and it is hard to empathize with them. The antagonist, Jake Nike, is pure evil with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, making him almost too cartoonish to take seriously.

This might do better as an action packed comic book or ‘graphic novel’ but it is still worth reading because the premise. The prose is adequate and although the characters are not engaging, they are serviceable.
( )
1 vote DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
Smart - as I first thought about it I paid the most attention to our kick-ass heroine and thought of it as a big step up from such fare as the Aisling Grey, demon-hunter novels. The world it portrays is almost plausible, and scary enough to be distinctly *not* funny imo. Otoh, a reader does have to suspend disbelief over a few implausibilities, too. And indeed it was a little too intense, too graphic, for my taste. All in all, I recommend it and will seek out other works by this author. But I won't say it's a must read because it's smart in a clever way, and I rate smart in a wise way more highly. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Novels like this scare me. Mostly because I could totally see this happening and THAT scares me.

Consumerism has taken over society and each company essentially belongs to two umbrella companies. It’s like the Pepsi and Coke debate taken to extremes. They go as far as giving you rewards for giving up your other loyalty card! You take the last name of your employer, so if you switch jobs, you switch names. The basis of the plot is Nike trying to promote $2,500 shoes (SHOES!!!) that teenagers are taking out loans to buy. I’m hoping all of this shows you exactly how much control consumerism has on people in Jennifer Government.

Normally I’m not a huge fan of so many narrators telling a story but it worked extremely well here. Especially because the stories all overlap. But not in the way where you hear the same story from different points, which I hate. Each story quickly connects with the others for small moments, weaving everything together nicely.

The only plotline I had issues following was the NGA (National Gun Association I think. I’m too lazy to look back and see ;). I followed it for a bit, then the story followed the other narrators for a bit, and by the time it came back to this one, I had completely forgotten it was part of the story. I didn’t even remember the character name. It was kind of eh :/ the rest of the way through.

I did like how each character had their own personalities and distinct motives for what was going on. Some of those were good motives, some of them bad, but they matched each character well. And other than the NGA plotline, I never confused them.

Overall, it wasn’t too bad of a read. Again, a little scary since I can see society being like this in the future. Maybe not to this extreme, but you never know.

Ps. In case you were wondering, there is a story behind Jennifer Government ‘s barcode tattoo. I giggled. ( )
  keyboardscoffee | May 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 87 (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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Max Barryprimary authorall editionscalculated
Schünemann, AnjaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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
For Charles Thiesen
Who really, really wanted me to call it "Capitalizm"
First words
Hack first heard about Jennifer Government at the watercooler.
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?

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:30 -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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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