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Jennifer Government [Paperback]

Max Barry
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Book Description

5 Feb 2004

In Max Barry's twisted, hilarious and terrifying vision of the near future, the world is run by giant corporations and employees take the last names of the companies they work for. It's a globalised, ultra-capitalist free market paradise!

Hack Nike is a lowly merchandising officer who's not very good at negotiating his salary. So when John Nike and John Nike, executives from the promised land of Marketing, offer him a contract, he signs without reading it. Unfortunately, Hack's new contract involves shooting teenagers to build up street cred for Nike's new line of $2,500 trainers. Hack goes to the police - but they assume that he's asking for a subcontracting deal and lease the assassination to the more experienced NRA.

Enter Jennifer Government, a tough-talking agent with a barcode tattoo under her eye and a personal problem with John Nike (the boss of the other John Nike). And a gun. Hack is about to find out what it really means to mess with market forces.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (5 Feb 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349117624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349117621
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A total blast ... funny and clever (NEW YORK TIMES)

Frightening and funny ... a riotous satirical rant (ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY)

Wicked and wonderful (THE WASHINGTON POST)

The most fun you'll find in a book store this year (TIME OUT, NEW YORK)

Book Description

Described by Naomi Klein as 'Brilliant and hilarious', JENNIFER GOVERNMENT is a wickedly funny thriller for the NO LOGO generation.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Set in a world ruled by corporations more than the increasingly powerless government, everybody takes on the name of the organisation they serve. Jennifer Goverment, the eponymous heroine, valiantly struggles to do The Right Thing while working to exact a spot of revenge on her ex, John Nike.
The National Rifle Association and the Police provide the firepower for a no-holds-barred competition between the only two Customer Loyalty Programmes left in existence after cross-industry mergers and things get ugly. Corporate politics, a real killer marketing campaign for the latest pair of trainers and some hapless idiots add light relief to the plot which bravely embraces the ridiculous along with the scarily plausible.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars George Orwell for the 21st Century 5 May 2003
Barry's tale is a brave work of fiction, examining a world where the corporations are more powerful than the government or the family, and where if you have enough power and influence you can get away with murder.
It's a quick read and easy to digest, but it gives a lot to think about. Is this really a direction the world is turning in, where children go to McDonalds schools and employees change their names as they move between corporations?
The plot is simple but follows a number of different characters as they find their lives woven together through the book. Definitely worth a read, and bound to become a very talked about book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Watch out for Max Barry! 15 April 2005
By Andy Millward VINE VOICE
Jennifer Government is a satirical romp somewhere midway between a zany critique on globalisation and a Whitehall farce with shades of Candide thrown in for good measure.
As John Nike rightly notes, it is also the antithesis of 1984, at least until the government gets its revenge on the wayward Mr. Nike. Capitalism and consumerism have assumed complete control, to the extent that that membership of loyalty schemes spells success, and to continue growth means obliterating the opposition. As the battle lines of competition are drawn, the key corporate marketing liaisons of the top companies are like first world war generals. In this context, John Nike initially gets ahead by being more crazy and delusional. Given the power of NRA armies, he exploits the world like a dictator before the forces of reason - on his own side - catch up, but only because they believe his strategy is not good business.
The inventiveness here is once in a generation - truly inspired. And the satire would lack any bite had he not used real global corporates and brands to illustrate his point - his message is entirely credible.
Like Tom Sharpe, Joseph Heller and other great satirists before him, Barry has created a bunch of eccentric characters worthy of Dr Strangelove, whom he bounces off one another at breakneck speed and tortures with gay abandon to illustrate the madness of marketing. And John Nike is truly the anti-hero of his era. If ever this book is filmed, I can just picture John Lithgow playing Nike in a state of semi-deranged fervour! So why name the book Jennifer Government? She represents the ultimate salvation from destruction, perhaps in a nod to the classic morality tales named after the heroine.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I bought this book some years back, perhaps because I was at the time of a political outlook not far from what was portrayed in the book.

The backdrop and plot should be known to the readers, but for good measure I will provide a short rehash: the new US (aka The Federated Bloc), *everything* is privatized. The state barely exists and has no noticeable presence or function in the everyday life of the public. Corporations are by far the most visible element in daily life, and some run the functions which government once provided (police, military, courts). People take their surname from their employer. And so on.

A Nike shoes employee, Hack Nike, is tasked to increase the demand for a new brand of Nike shoes (with an extreme sales price and an equally extreme(-ly low) production cost), by having ten teenagers shot when the first store carrying the product opens. He passes the job on (outsourcing) to the Police, which then outsources to the NRA, and from there on, it all goes wrong: The product launch turns into more of a bloodbath than Hack intended, and a mother of one of the victims of the campaign hires a government agent to investigate.

The satirical oppertunity of the book is immense considering its setting in a world where privatization is taken to an extreme; in other words it would be candy for both those pro and anti of the portrayed world.

Unfortunately it doesn't last; you can only go on for so long about describing a radically different political-economic reality without taking an overt point for or against it; the author, wisely so, abstains from this as that would have turned the book into a rant, instead he goes down the humorous road, spiked with satire.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Max Potboiler 22 Feb 2004
By page 20 of Jennifer Government, I was bitter with envy - why didn't I write this book with all these great ideas? He's the same age as me after all... From the central conceit that the USA has taken over (in a business rather than military sense) almost every other Western country, through the notion that people will be named after their employers in such a capitalizt (sic) future, to the idea of marketing trainers by shooting teens who wear them, to make them seem more desirable - Max Barry just has originality to burn. Even the rhythmically pleasing title had me drumming my heels in merriment.
By page 70 I was looking askance over my shoulder, blushing with embarrassment for the fellow. Full of all these ideas and he can't write for toffee! Goodness me, on a sentence by sentence level this book really is terrible. It started when I got the feeling Barry wanted us to feel emotional at the murder of a teenager, who up until then had been just a selfish spoiled idiot designed purely to make a satirical point. And as the book goes on, it becomes clearer that he does want us to take these characters to heart, even though they're pure cartoons. And the reviewer below who thinks it will make a great film clearly thinks like Barry - it quickly becomes pure Hollywood, with action sequences interspersed with 'character' 'development' and people saying things (I can hardly believe it) like "Goddamnit, Jennifer Government, there may be hope for you yet" with a straight face, and people narrowly escaping death by blazing gunfire then saying quietly to themselves, "Hot damn."
And this is a real shame. Rarely enough, a great conceit comes along and the creator has the intelligence and wit to take it to its logical (or illogical) conclusion - think Being John Malkovich.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Ranks with 1984 & Brave Brave New World
In a half century of little or nothing in the way of huge international political satire, Jennifer Government hits the buttons. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Clive Lindley
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
It was so gripping, I couldn't stop reading. I loved it as it had Borders bookshop in it where I worked, but I hated the shop and it was fun to see it appear in this racy... Read more
Published 7 months ago by dontwantpenname
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read
I recommend you read this book and check out a game based on it called "Nation States".

Anyway, this book is a brilliant read. BUY IT!
Published 13 months ago by Steven Caulfield
4.0 out of 5 stars great read
Really good book-funny and exciting, with characters that interest you. Best book by Max Barry I have read. Would recommend.
Published 17 months ago by Maxine Cowley
4.0 out of 5 stars This Review is Brought to You By Samuel Amazon
In `Jennifer Government', Max Barry paints a future where the politicians have little power and the corporate world holds all the power. Read more
Published on 10 Jan 2012 by Sam Tyler
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
The book is simply amazing. I like the broder perspective in the book, and the storyline is just the icing of the cake. Read more
Published on 6 Dec 2011 by Nicklas
5.0 out of 5 stars Jennifer Government
Great book and delivery first class next day. I have read this book before and have bought it as a present in view of recent world events it is a very visionary novel and... Read more
Published on 6 Oct 2011 by G Quinn
5.0 out of 5 stars You will never collect customer rewards again
In the future the world has been taken over by the corporations. They own everyone's lives and you even have to take the company you work for as your surname. Read more
Published on 1 Dec 2010 by Andrew Dalby
3.0 out of 5 stars World Class Ideas But Bog Standard Execution.
The Plot: In the near future US corporations will dominate the globe and our daily lives to such an extent that people will take on the name of the company they work for as their... Read more
Published on 2 Mar 2010
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking as well as a great tale
This book takes you into a future which is seemingly extrapolated from the course that the world has taken since the 1980's; into a place where seemingly everything is a commodity. Read more
Published on 3 Jan 2009 by Christian
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