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Jennifer Government Paperback – Jan 6 2004

3.8 out of 5 stars 127 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (Jan. 6 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400030927
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400030927
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 127 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #114,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The most unnerving thing about Max (formerly Maxx) Barry's new novel is that its hyperbolic vision of the not too distant future doesn't seem too far out there at all. The world is run by giant corporations who literally go to war with one another; Australia and the U.K. are annexes of the United States; the police are for sale to the highest bidder; and employees take the last name of their employers. Thus, the cast of characters includes John Nike, Georgia Saints Nike (she volunteers at the Church of Latter-Day Saints), Billy NRA, Buy Mitsui, Hayley McDonalds, and so forth. Jennifer Government, a former advertising executive turned government agent, is hot on the trail of the villainous John Nike for murder. As the mastermind of the latest Nike campaign, he planned the murder of 14 teenagers in order to build up the street reputation for Nike's new $2,500 sneaker, Mercurys. Frederick's reading of this wacked-out morality play is first-rate. His obvious enjoyment of the satire fuels his performance. Especially entertaining are his stereotypical foreign accents, which would seem out of place under most circumstances, but they fit the comic book-type characters waging chaos in this saga like an Aris glove.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The premise of the novel is great; it definitely got my interest when I heard of it years ago, but I kept pushing it down my reading list. Maybe I've been tainted by YA, but I feel like it fell flat with its idea. I wanted revolution! Change! And instead I got an interesting and clever plot that started with plain characters in boring situations and ended in a perfect convergence of plots. Also, the writing reminded me of the Hitchhiker's Guide; not quite as witty, but still direct without reading off as simplistic.

I did read through this pretty quickly so some issues I have are mostly my fault. For example, the characters often left me wondering who they were. I'd start their viewpoint and would completely forget which plot their name is linked to but the author did a good job of reminding me without hitting me over the head with it. The characters themselves are also really well made. They are distinct from each other in not so subtle ways, making it easier to rely on their actions and words to distinguish them instead of their names.

It was great seeing how one small decision a boring office worker made spiralled into a huge debacle, combining all of our characters' efforts and weaving their stories so seamlessly. I wish I paid a bit more attention because I've already forgotten how some characters ended up (mostly minor ones, however), and I wish their stories had more closure, but the ending with John and Theo was perfect; that last line hit it so well. It left the issue hanging, making me wonder if one day someone else will try for my aforementioned hoped-for revolution, yet wrapped up this story about their government nicely.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jennifer Government is a fictional novel set in a world where free markets have been taken to the extreme & the only rule is: make as much profit as possible. Barry establishes a number of clever & entertaining characters - such as Jennifer Government, the title character, who is a government agent set on bringing wrong-doers to justice, John Nike the egomaniac hell-bent on being number one at any costs & a number of characters who have become disillusioned with the world they live in & their role in it, such as: Buy Mitsui, Hack Nike & Claire Sears. There is even a woman pushing the boundaries of reason named Violet with no last name since she's unemployed. And there's even a Texas hick who finds himself temporarily out of a job before he becomes the unwilling pawn in a international conspiracy to reap chaos; an "innocent" guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, all the time.

Jennifer Government is a highly entertaining novel that pokes fun at the idea that free markets will solve all of our problems. It's highly absurd in most respects, but it's satire & is supposed to be absurd, funny & push the boundaries of what is reason: it's fiction, not fact.

Being a strong proponent of free markets & liberalization myself, I found a lot of humour in this book. It's a fun tale that takes a look at what happens when we let extremists make the rules without any checks & balances. The book is an incredibly fast read despite being a little over 300 pages. I'm a slow reader who often finds myself having to take frequent breaks & can only read or a period of an hour a day. This book was difficult to put down due to it being so entertaining & easy to read.
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Format: Paperback
Archconservative Grover Norquist has been quoted as saying he'd like to make government small enough to "drown it in a bathtub." If he and like-minded individuals were successful in doing so, the world that would result might very well look like that depicted in Max Barry's second novel, JENNIFER GOVERNMENT. In this world, government has been downsized to the point where it has to petition funds from its own citizens in order to pursue murderers, and everything from roads to utilities has been wholly deregulated.
Barry's point is satire, and he does a grand job of it. Within the first few pages, readers are introduced to the predominantly Australian cast of characters - Australia has become a "USA country", a sort of franchise of the United States - who exist in a society where citizens take as their last name the names of the companies for whom they work. We see schools sponsored by McDonald's and Mattel, where children are indoctrinated into consumerism as thoroughly (if not more so) as they're taught math and language. We see a corporate culture so thoroughly divorced from a government-mandated sense of decency that it's considered good advertising to kill the buyers of a certain brand of shoes in order to imbue the product with a certain kind of thrill.
If it sounds insane, then Barry has gotten his point across. The events in JENNIFER GOVERNMENT are insane, and some of the more unscrupulous characters in the book are definitely certifiable.
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