©2003 Max Barry; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc.
"Wicked and wonderful....[It] does just about everything right. Fast-moving, funny, and involving." (The Washington Post Book World)
"Funny and clever....A kind of ad-world version of Dr. Strangelove. [Barry] unleashes enough wit and surprise to make his story a total blast." (The New York Times Book Review)
It's 20XX and corporate consumerism is bad, mm'kay? In a world where government is reduced to funding by donation, private corporations beat innocent people over the head with shallow portrayals of the little guy being subjugated as their executive oppressors are systematically rewarded for their ruthlessness.
An audiobook a day keeps the mind okay.
Jennifer Government has a great premise that gets lost along the way, devolving into a mostly disappointing cops-and-robbers fantasy.
Max Barry is a gifted and highly imaginative writer, no doubt about it, and, I thoroughly enjoyed a more recent novel of his, "Machine Man," about a man who replaces his own limbs with supercharged prosthetics, but this novel, "Jennifer Government," although it comes highly recommended (and even spawned interest from Hollywood) unfortunately left me disappointed and shaking my head at a missed opportunity.
Don't get me wrong: the premise is great. Set in a dystopian world where corporations rule practically every aspect of one's life, where even one's surname reflects employment rather than heritage, "Jennifer Government" stimulates the imagination. Yet it squanders this initial effect, in my opinion, quickly becoming lost in good-guys-vs-bad-guys, slapstick comedy, and oddball characters. The result is disorienting. What started out as P.K. Dick becomes something akin to a Carl Hiassen novel.
Fortunately Max Barry does give us a few glimpses into his strange capitalistic vision---consumers lumber about so extremely jaded that they are unable to distinguish terrorist attacks from new ad campaigns. And sad sack employees are so desperate to stay employed (since unemployment is tantamount to losing one's identity), that they are willing to murder if necessary. When these all-too-brief moments appear in the novel, they are indeed fascinating, so much so that one has to wonder what this novel might have been like had it gone in another direction.
This is my second book by Max Barry. The other was Lexicon. Both are original ideas, have well developed characters and interesting twists. I've purchased a third of his books.
I'm a fan of mystery, science-fiction, and the unusual.
I liked the book. I thought it drew a very funny caricature of modern life, and what it might look like if taken to ridiculous extremes. It was easy to immerse myself into the story. The theme was clever, and colorful. I really appreciate the authors take on modern culture.
The narrator was perfect for the fast-moving story line.
I "read" The Company and truly enjoyed it. This was not enjoyable. There was no lightheartedness fun in this book. One of the reasons I chose it was because The Company really made me laugh. I expected the same. Maybe I shouldn't have. The concept is there, the farreaching idea is there -- but its just not good enough for me to rate it any higher than 2 stars. And that my friends is being generous.
The plot is clever and fast-paced. The narrator was very good but the female voices sounded a bit funny. Overall, I would recommend this book. I work on the computer most of the day and this was an enjoyable audiobook to listen to. I work in the marketing field and it's not too far off the mark on how bizarre advertising think can get!
Imagine a drama mixed with suspense; throw in a splash of action and a main character that looks good in a skirt and you have this novel. Jennifer Government makes you wonder who done it, and how did he do that. In addition, you will want to share this book with friends and family, but I highly recommend you tell them to buy their own, as you will never want to give up your copy. This book is a modern day classic and Max Berry deserves all the accolades we can give him.
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