Leah (VeganFreak) reviewed Jennifer Government (Audio CD) (Abridged) on
Helpful Score: 4
Satire on consumerism and the Americanization of the world. Being a person disgusted by both of those things I had no trouble imagining the world that Barry created.
It is set in a future where most of the planet is part of America and corporations run the world. It was a quick read and while some of the content was violent and bleak, it remained kooky and upbeat enough that I didn't think the story was dark.
It didn't quiet feel like a dystopian society since very few people seemed unhappy with their lives and the fact that they were so owned by corporations that their own last name was whatever company they worked for.
Jennifer works for the government, thus Jennifer Government is her name; some of the other characters are John Nike, Hayley McDonald's, and Claire Sears(creepy, huh?). Everything is corporate owned and operated, even the schools.
This is one of those stories that I think is just "okay" while I read it, but I like it more afterward. It's the kind of story that I will remember forever and will be reminded of when I see over-the-top consumerism.
Jennifer Government poses the most humorous "future gone wrong" I've encountered in the many of the other books of its kind that I've read. I've kind of been on a dystopian kick lately, and Barry's world of tomorrow isn't quite as grim as some other authors have dreamed up, but there've been some big changes.
First, 75% of the planet is now part of the United States, with only pockets of foreign countries still rooted in democracy and free market. The parts of the world governed by the US are under control of the corporations. In this future, people take on the last name of the company they work for -- for example, John Nike or Violet ExxonMobile. The Government now seeks to solve crimes but doesn't impart justice -- it's too expensive. The Police are third-party hit men for the corporations and private citizens, the NRA mercenaries for hire. It's crazy stuff.
The character development in Jennifer Government isn't great -- I didn't find myself caring about or relating to the central characters. The book's namesake, Jennifer Government, is a single mother with a secret, a former advertising wunderkid who now has cast off corporate life to work for the Government. Why is part of the central storyline. Another part of the problem is the sheer number of characters Barry throws at the readers. It's especially confusing when characters change jobs or employers, thus getting a new last name. Luckily, the story is fun enough to get past these problems. It's not going to earn a place among my favorite books, but I did enjoy Barry's satirical and cautionary tale of tomorrow, where consumerism has taken over and brand power is worth killing for.
This is a quick read, but a good one. It takes place in the future and paints a scary, almost-too-realistic view of what the world would be like if corporations took over. It also showcases the most frustrating points of bureaucracy in a way that make you shake your head and think, "That will be us 50 years from now." The web of characters just gets more complicated and interesting as the story goes on, and it has a satisfying ending. All in all, a great book!
This is a GREAT book! I chose it randomly, but the instant I read the synopsis, I was hooked. The book takes a few chapters to get to the core of the plot, but once it does, you can't put it down. I would recommend this book to anybody who likes to read about governmental meltdowns or stories about what could happen down the road.
The premise of this book was really interesting, the story was good - it was the character development that was sorely lacking. I got confused with the characters and had to refer back a few times, which was really odd because there really weren't a terrible amount of characters, they were just not developed enough for my taste I guess.
Having said all of that, it's a book that smacks of what could one day be the truth. Corporations running the world. Taking your employer's name as your last name. Reward "clubs" warring. Great story overall!
I listened to the unabridged CD audio book. The back of the case says, in part, "Max Barry's hilarious vision of the near future...."
Well, not so much. I kept listening because the plotlines held the promise of something much more, but it just ended up being nine or more hours of my life that I won't get back. It's not that the book is bad, it's just that there's nothing funny in it. The employees taking the name of their employer is mildly amusing, but seriously...
The book had a lot of storylines that merged and veered; the elements were there to provide a big-bang ending, but it just kinda fizzled to an end.
Imagine if corporations ran the world, even more so than they do, and the government was just another business, striving for justice, but only if they can find the financial backing to do so.
A fun and all-to-possible vision of the future, Jennifer Government plays out like Joss Whedon and George Orwell found themselves locked together in an ATM vestibule with nothing to do but make up a story.
Barry's writing is strong at times, but his passion for the issues he raises in "Jennifer Government" tends to surpass his talents. No doubt the leftist message will be lost on some readers and alienate others, though this book is suitable for a budding young Democrat with an interest in contemporary literature that isn't too challenging. Ultimately, "Jennifer Government" clearly wants to be the liberal version of "1984," but it doesn't quite make the cut.