©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.
You know you're into audiobooks when pondering a particular book's length makes you think of hours rather than pages.
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!
"a quirky read"
This book is certainly different. The essence of the story is well set out in the blurb above so I wont repeat it. Suffice it to say that the book is part-satire, part thriller and part romance. It is at its strongest when satirising the whole concept of marketing - for example, the marketing strategy for the new brand of Nike trainers is, well, different (I would spoil the story if I spelt it out) and the notion is developed and put across with great verve and savage humour.
If I had a criticism it is that the pace is a little uneven; the switch between styles - thriller, satire, romance - is not always successful. The author can't seem to strike a consistent balance between treating his characters as real people and as pawns in the satire. But that said, the narrative bowls along at a good pace and it is never dull - the narration is very good too; the story and characters are put across very well, and his handling of some of the more bizarre scenes is laugh out loud funny.
Overall, if you are looking for something a little different from the normal sort of audiobook thriller, "Jennifer Government" should be on your short list. I certainly enjoyed it, and anyone who works in marketing would I am sure enjoy the joke too.
"Great Read for Slightly Off the Wall Life"
It is a great book. The book is about capitalism gone mad. Where people names are based on who they work for. And anything can be bought; or can it? This is where Jennifer comes in. She is a law enforcement person who thinks things should be done for the good of the people, not just for capital gain. Does she win out?
"Interesting ideas, mediocre storytelling"
Great ideas, taking corporate capitalism to it's absurd conclusion, but poorly told by and large.
"Should be much more famous!!"
A really great book!!
I do not know why Jennifer Government is not more famous.
It should be a TV film or series.
It should be as well know as Handmaids tale or Brave new world or 1984.
Its funny and particularly today with the ongoing rise of multi-nationals and Britain thinking of leaving the EU its seems shockingly modern. I first read this book in 2006 and came back to reread it recently and its just great. This goes on my books everyone should read list ... So go read it :)
"Innovative, different and thought-provoking"
This tale is a logic-stretching view of a future where corporations vie with countries to run the world - a plausible premise writ large which may make you see the future direction of big business differently
The action at the mall - various times. Sneaker marketing!
Jennifer catching up with John...
No - I listen to these audiobooks on my 90 minute commute. Makes the drive more bearable
I'm a big fan of Max Barry - I recommend you try Company too. It will make you think twice about things going on in the office!
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