Jennifer Government maths This is one of my favourite books EVER and I don t give a fishing damn if Some people say it s overhyped and overrated Some people say it s predictable Some people say it s pure, badly written crap Some people say all the characters in the story are stupid, flat and unlikeable And I certainly don t give a fishing damn about the book snobs who compare this book to the supposed greatness of novels written by Huxley, Orwell, Stephenson and the like The reverse book snob in me happens to think all these authors are greatly overrrrrrrated I d rather reread The Duke and I than have to go through Snow Crash or Brave New World again But hey, I m clueless enough to think Jennifer Government is one of the coolest books ever, so what the shrimp do I know And the moral of this crappy non review is love this book, hate this book, judge this book, I don t give a fishing damn It is and forever will be pure delicious awesomeness to me Ha Pre review nonsense 2 Question Is this still one of the coolest books I ve ever read Answer Crappy non review to come In 2025 Or whenever I dont find the time to write it Pre review nonsense 1 Because this is one of my favourite books ever And because reading it way too many times twice is not nearly enough. Taxation Has Been Abolished, The Government Has Been Privatized, And Employees Take The Surname Of The Company They Work For It S A Brave New Corporate World, But You Don T Want To Be Caught Without A Platinum Credit Card As Lowly Merchandising Officer Hack Nike Is About To Find Out Trapped Into Building Street Cred For A New Line Of Sneakers By Shooting Customers, Hack Attracts The Barcode Tattooed Eye Of The Legendary Jennifer Government A Stressed Out Single Mom, Corporate Watchdog, And Government Agent Who Has To Rustle Up Funding Before She S Allowed To Fight Crime, Jennifer Government Is Holding A Closing Down Sale And Everything Must GoA Wickedly Satirical And Outrageous Thriller About Globalization And Marketing Hype, Jennifer Governmentis The Best Novel In The World Ever A satire about neoliberalism leads to its ultimate goal that shows the immense flaws and unlogic of this fairy tale Imagine the opposite of a state dictatorship like communism or state communism with state owned companies and directed market economy Instead, companies own everything and the state belongs to them One may ask, where there is a difference to our actual situation Well, in this case, it is official and no farce is held all few years and called a democratic election In this gritty, sick world and setting many tropes and ideas to caricature privatization and globalization can be set in place Instead of hitting on Milton Friedman, Friedrich von Hayek and their successors, one should spread novels like that, cause laughing about something has two great effects Once it doesn t make one angry or sad and secondly it s the only appropriate reaction to this whole mambo jumbo, yada yada economic system Readers who liked the idea might like Richard Morgans novel Market Forces, which deals with a similar scenery And leftist non fiction in general. If asked to write the foreword to some 20th anniversary commemorative edition, I would say that Max Barry s Jennifer Government is like a bottle of Diet Neal Stephenson served with a twist of Christopher Moore or perhaps a dash of Tom Robbins There is something uncannily similar betweenSnow Crashand Jennifer Government in the comic book pacing in the hyperbolic and impossible but chillingly familiar geo political climate that he illustrates in the characters that reek of auto erotic caricature and yet are so well drawn, so believable and sympathetic and damn plausible You can see Y.T dropping out of school because of girls like Haley McDonald s You can see NRA franchises competing against La Cosa Nostra in the burbclaves You can imagine Hiro Protagonist sub contracted by Jennifer Government to fend off Violet ExxonMobil You wonder how the milieus of these novels aren t linked.But even if you haven t readSnow Crash , even if you aren t making those comparisons, you will find this one wholly enjoyable It has an immediate start, thrusts you headlong into the story already in progress but makes sure to catch you up just as quickly And it never loses this momentum The chapters coming at you fast each about 3 5 pages and are fairly dialogue driven Before you know it, you ll find you ve burned through 100 pages THIS IS NOT A BAD THING The narrative draws you in, the prose gets out of the way, and the characters encourage you to get invested.Borderline 5 star review There is a whimsy to this tale that draws on a lot of familiar dystopian capitalist tropes e.g., the libertarian anarchy of free market capitalism run amok it borders on cliche but doesn t quite cross the frontier into hackneyed territory That it gets that close, that the prose taps its toes on cliche s fences is where we lose the fifth star in the rating But that the narrative goes there so unabashedly, in all of its over the top banality that is a beautiful thing. In a word, Max Barry is overrated He has no ear for dialogue and his characters are completely flat and forgettable He has an annoying habit of making his female characters drop dead gorgeous and going on at length about just how gorgeous they are And exactly what they re wearing That being said, he s got a good enough sense of pacing and enough satirical bite though it never breaks the skin to keep a person reading I mean, there has to be some explanation for the fact that I read three of his books in two weeks I find myself irritated with his mediocre writing and tired observations yet unable to put his books down until they re done Jennifer Government is set in a dystopian future in which the individual is so irrelevant that they take on the name of whatever corporation they work for There are some truly funny moments but the book just feels like unfulfilled potential I would say he s like the JJ Abrams of books you kinda like the ideas but the execution blows. I gave this book 2 stars, because I thought it was a good ride, but honestly it s only good at all if you can get past the fact that all of the characters are completely one dimensional, poorly thought out, do things that are totally unrealistic, and have little to no motivation to do anything but do things that are completely bizarre Seriously, Hack, the main character if there is one, is like Tess of the D Urbervilles He practically sleepwalks his way through the book and then when he grows a spine it s all pointless The big secret of Jennifer Government s eye tattoo wasn t anything worthwhile either There s so much pointlessness in this book, and so much out of the blue action that it makes you wonder how this book got any good reviews at all If anyone in my book club actually reads this I ll be amazed, and I d be totally up for discussing how bad it is with anyone who asks. There is so much I want to say about this book It is so jammed packed with interesting ideas and characters that there are a million places to start Perhaps I ll just get the crude and vulgar out of the way first.The world of Jennifer Government reads like an Ayn Rand wet dream Corporations have free reign in what is called the United States of America but actually comprises North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, and the British isles or, for you George Orwell fans out there, Oceania The government makes Nozick s Night watchman state look like Soviet Russia and even most basic services are provided by companiesThe teacher jotted something in his folder McDonald s sponsored schools were cheap like that at Pepsi schools, everyone had notebook computers Also their uniforms were much better But all is not happy go lucky in this Capitalist Paradise Where the government does not have a monopoly on violence, those that deal in violence are attracted to the highest bidder A corporate Cold War is on the verge of heating up, and in this case the customer isn t always rightThe battle lines have been drawn Every Team Alliance company is in competition with every Team Advantage company Every customer who flies T.A airline will buy a computer from Compaq instead of IBM Boeing is with us because otherwise United Airlines won t buy from it With this as the backdrop we are introduce to a wide cast of characters whose threads eventually get entangled with each other and much bigger events.John Nike because in this world you are your job, or at least your last name is your company is what John Galt would be if Ayn Rand had a halfway decent editor He condenses Jon Galt s in famous ninety page radio speech into two paragraphs that absolutely represent the spirit of the ageLook, 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 will 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 Who s going to stop you You want to make computers that need repair after three months Who s going to stop you You want to reward consumers who complain about your competitors in the media You want to pay them for recruiting their little brothers and sisters to your brand of cigarettes You want the NRA to help you eliminate your competition Then do it Just do it He is a ruthless, amoral, sanctimonious, asshole and thrives in the world corporations have constructed It s my job to increase sales Is it my fault thatkilling kids to create buzzwas the best way to do it If Government had the muscle to enforce the law, it wouldn t have made economic sense, but they don t and it did this is the world we live in If you don t take advantage of the rules, you re a sucker.If it doesn t have a dollar sign in front of it, isn t connected to a board of directors, or doesn t wear a short skit, he isn t interested He is pure id in the empire of id.Jennifer Government, the book s namesake, is a bit rougher around the edges, hemmed in by Government limitations that prevent her from seeing justice done In order to pursue a murder investigation she has to convince the victims families to pony up money for a budgetThe Government s budget only extends to preventing crime, not punishing it For retributive investigation, we can only proceed if we can obtain fundingShe fit nicely into the loose cannon cop trope while still delivering both a softer side with her daughter, and a interesting backstory than most who populate the trope In a way, Jennifer felt bad, busting into such a nice place in full riot gear and scaring the crap out of everybody But in another, accurate way, she enjoyed it a lot. The world itself is quite dystopian All the places in the USA are homogenized be they LA, Australia, or England The overwhelming cultural impulse is to do anything to get ahead, to get yours and to hell with other people People have internalized this to the point where that commit immoral actions child abduction, murder, assassinations, etc or suffer psychological breakdowns when they finally burn out It is a culture driven by consumerism and consumption at the cost of overseas workers, the environment, and our shared humanity.Thankfully things like this The cheap roads were clogged, even at six thirty, but he was only four blocks from a premium Bechtel freeway and that was eight lanes, two dollars a mile, and no speed limit. Would never happen in AmericaWell, at least this would never happen Prison housing prices have really jumped lately Some of these places, you do fifteen years labor and come out owing them for food and board. Not in the good ole US of A.Well, at least emergency services will never devolve into thisSir, I need to know if the victim is part of our register If she s one of our clients, we ll be there within a few minutes Otherwise I m happy to recommend I need an ambulance I ll pay for it, I don t care, just come Do you have a credit card, sir Yes Send someone now As soon as I confirm your ability to pay, sir This will only take a few secondsYup, no way that happens here in the land of the free and the home of the brave Goddamnit world, this book was not supposed to be a how to guide Anyway, doomsday prophesying aside, this was a very fast read Chapters were just a few pages long and the action jumps among a wide cast of characters The writing is sharp see below for some of my favorite quotes and Barry does a great job bringing this Calitalizm nightmare to life I did think the ending was a bit lacking, much like Lexicon, but I greatly enjoyed this book in spite of this If you like economic dystopias or just think the setting sounds fun then by all means check this out.Also, if you are feeling ambitious, start and run your own nation at Nationstates, a site affiliated with this book.Now, without further ado, fun horrifying quotes Companies were getting a lot tougher on labor contracts these days Hack had heard stories At Adidas, if you quit your job and your replacement wasn t as competent, they sued you for lost profits I want to commandeer your vehicle for Government business We pay three hundred dollars per hour of use, plus any necessary repairs Also, you have the satisfaction of knowing you ve helped prevent crimes in your community Three hundred up front Companies claimed to be highly responsive, but you only had to chase a screaming man through their offices to realize that wasn t true There was no place for irony in marketing it made people want to look for deeper meaning there was no place in marketing for that, either.There are lots of other brilliant and funny lines as well, you should read it and see them for yourself This was really fucking good Not quite five star read, but I m giving it 5 anyway Because.Review might come If I ever do the other 5000 I ve been promising. In some ways, Max Barry s Jennifer Government is like the inverse of Orwell s 1984 It s set in the near future where things have gone loopy, but instead of an out of control, totalitarian government oppressing everyone, it s uncontrollable megacorporations and hypercapitalism or, one could argue, hyperlibertarianism that s ruining everyone s day Unfortunately, Jennifer Government is unlike 1984 in that it s not particularly well written.The hook, like I said, is that Barry has created a near future world where capitalism and its slothful cousin consumerism are the defining forces in the free world, to the point where the USA has taken over most of the planet, abolished taxes, moved nearly all traditionally governmental functions like education to the private sector, and yelled Okay, let er rip It s the kind of place where McDonald s and Mattell run the grade schools, the police are mercenaries who dispense justice only after your credit card clears, and most of the world s ginormous corporations are banding together into ruthless syndicates centered around competing frequent buyer clubs The consumer culture is so extreme that one s job is the most important thing in life, so that people do the very improbable thing of taking on their employer s name So you got among the cast of characters John Nike two of em, in fact , Billy NRA uh, two of those, also , and one would assume Alice Freeonlinecreditreports.com but just one of them.By this you may surmise that the titular character, Jennifer Government, is one of the few people left in the employ of the dwindling public sector She is, in fact, a law enforcement officer, and one of the last laws that remain in her world is a proscription against murder So Jennifer gets involved when John Nike and his colleague the other John Nike launch a marketing campaign that involves assassinating 12 of the first youngsters to buy their new sneakers You know, for the free hype and street cred.The book jumps around between the points of view of several characters, including Jennifer Government, a suicidal stock broker, an anti consumerism saboteur, a computer hacker with a screw loose, and the megalomaniacal marketing executive John Nike But in general it s a tale of revenge and thrills In fact, Jennifer Government is so obviously cast in the same mold as every rogue cop in every formulistic cop movie you ve ever seen that I kept expecting her to fall to her knees, throw her head back, and howl MEEENNNNDOOOOZZAAAAA And then she practically did just that.The other main problem I had with this book was that the author s hand was WAY too visible in the plot, shoving things this way and that so that they went the way he wanted There are a lot of threads and characters introduced, which in a way is great because it gives us points of view into this potentially very interesting world that Barry has created But what really kind of broke the magic for me was that unlikely coincidences started piling up and the characters started to do very improbable things so that those threads could be twisted together There are cases of mistaken identity thanks to so many people having the same name but apparently no other way of establishing identity, chance meetings on airplanes and street corners, spontaneous and completely unexplainable romances, and overly convenient job assignments that bring characters together It feels a lot less like the author is weaving various threads together and a lot like he s yanking us around by the nose In other words, it s not that the plot is so contrived, it s that the reader is so aware of it.This is too bad, because the situation and world that Barry has created has a lot of potential I wish he had expanded on the book a bit and had the guts to slow things down a bit so that we got vignettes and viewpoints about what it s like to live in a world where corporate executives can literally have you killed and get away with it, buying things is a way of life tantamount to religion, and class structures are defined less by race and wealth and by which frequent buyer s club card you have in your wallet The role of the media tv, print, web in this kind of world was also completely unexplored in the book The author had some neat ideas going on here, but he seemed less intent on exploring them and intent on railroading us through a predictable yet ham fisted crime thriller Still, it is fun and interesting enough in places that I can mildly recommend it as a kind of quick, entertaining read It s kind of like a summer blockbuster action movie in book form. Interesting book A blistering satire on corporate culture, the book is written with a sparse, sharp style It flies by I read it while on the plane I don t enjoy flying and it took me right out of the shuddering cabin and into the world of corporations, advertisement, and violence.In the future, corporations rule the world, at least in USA and Commonwealth Last names are abandoned in favor of employer names John Nike, Lisa Disney, Michelle McDonalds and so on Jobs are everything Hack Nike works in marketing and he hates his Then, on a chance trip to a different floor, he is approached by an executive who offers him a new position with a contract in a small print Hack signs the contract without reading and the executive explains his new position to him Nike is about to unveil their new line of shoes and to generate some street cred, Hack has to go to a local mall and shoot twelve teenagers for their shoes Hack realizes he s screwed, and the book hits the ground running.As I said, I ve inhaled the book At the core it s not about Hack but is about Jennifer Government and John Nike, the man she deeply hates Now that several days have passed, I can point out a few problems with the narrative Jennifer is a bit of cliche, there are perhaps too many viewpoints, and the action seems a bit confused, but while I read it, none of that mattered Check it out if you get a chance.
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- 321 pages
- Jennifer Government
- Max Barry
- 22 January 2018 Max Barry