Perhaps Max Barry might thinks that he has written a brilliant social commentary disguised as a crummy adventure story. It is actually the reverse -- a brilliant action adventure story masquerading as a clumsy social protest.
The overall theme of the book is anti-capitalism. As a theme, I could take it or leave it. Max, however, doesn't execute this theme well. He relies exclusively on hyperbole to criticize. He offers no alternatives. All of the corporations are villain entities. Max seems to have a particular hate-on for the NRA because those characters are consistently both violent and incompetent.
The title character is a very static character, well developed, and fun. Jennifer Government is an investigator who is trying to expose a conspiracy to kill innocents. Her big plot twist is a little predictable, but I still enjoyed how Max brought drove me to that twist in the road. Although a loner by nature, she succeeds in the end only by accepting help from others.
The other lead, Hack Nike, is too dynamic. I don't mind that he experiences character growth, but his change is too sudden. His personality changes to the point of being unrecognizable, seemingly within two short scenes. Had he followed the Hero's Journey formula, I could have shrugged it off, but that simply isn't happening here.
The most fun part for me was the allegoric style. It is an allegory, and almost a classical allegory like Everyman. Characters have metaphoric names like John Nike, Billy NRA, and the Pepsi Kid. My favorite character is the Pepsi Kid, an overly excitable young executive whose name no one can remember.
The adventure takes a varied cast of characters around the globe and through four countries. The climatic action could have been over the proverbial top, but Max writes it with excellent balance of detail and pacing.
Micheal Kramer's reading is great, curiously with an American accent for a Australian cast.
Although problematic, I overall greatly enjoyed it.
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