Jennifer Government A novel

Max Barry

Book - 2003

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FICTION/Barry, Max
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1st Floor FICTION/Barry, Max Due Jun 6, 2022
New York : Doubleday 2003.
1st ed
Physical Description
321 p.
Main Author
Max Barry (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

In the not-too-distant future, Australia and the UK are part of the U.S., government and law enforcement have become for-profit businesses, and corporate ethics have been reduced to a simple question of economics (more so than now, anyway). Hoping for a promotion from his dead-end merchandising job, Hack Nike takes a special assignment from two Nike executives, which, he discovers, requires him to gun down teenagers to promote a tough urban image for Nike's new line of shoes. Finding that the family of one of the victims can afford to pay for the investigation, Jennifer Government takes the case to find the killers and expose the Nike conspiracy. As she gets closer to the truth, Nike hatches a plan to end government interference in business forever, and all-out war erupts between the two rival marketing superpowers, comprising the largest companies from nearly every industry. Though pensive readers may extract political commentary from it, Barry's latest novel has more value as entertainment. A refreshingly creative and unique read. ((Reviewed December 1, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Yes, the eponymous heroine really does work for the government. In a world where corporations run everything, even giving employees their surnames, Jennifer steps in to help Hack Nike, who has unwittingly contracted to shoot teenagers wearing a classy brand of sneakers. You weren't expecting anything ordinary from the author of Syrup, were you? Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Free enterprise runs amok in Barry's satirical near-future nightmare: the American government has been privatized and now runs most of the world, including "the Australian Territories of the U.S.A.," where the book is set. American corporations sponsor everything from schools to their employees' identities, and literally go to war with one another. By taking a drink at the wrong water cooler, Hack Nike, a merchandising officer at the athletic shoe company whose name he bears, is coerced into a nefarious marketing plot to raise the demand for Nike's new $2,500 sneakers by shooting teenagers. Hank becomes responsible for the death of hapless teen Hayley McDonald's; he and two top Guerrilla Marketing executives, both named John Nike, are soon pursued by the ruthless Jennifer Government, a former advertising executive who is now a federal agent with a personal ax to grind-and preferably to sink into the cranium of her hated ex, one of the John Nikes. Barry tosses off his anticorporate zingers with relish; his sendup of "capitalizm"-a world where fraud is endemic and nearly everyone (except the French) is a cog in vast wealth-creation machines-has some ingenious touches. The one-joke shtick wears thin, however, and is simply overdone at times ("I'm getting rid of Government, the greatest impediment to business in history," says John. "Yes, some people die. But look at the gain!"). Barry's cartoonish characters and comic book chase scenes don't allow for much psychological subtlety or emotional resonance. Still, if it's no 1984, this breezy, stylish read will amuse the converted and get some provocative conversations going. (On sale Jan. 21) Forecast: Doubleday promises a "guerrilla marketing" campaign, and the book's weird, eye-catching title should help grab readers' attention. Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney's Section 8 Films have optioned film rights, and foreign rights have been sold in Australia, Finland, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and the U.K. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Adult/High School-In a satiric near future, privatization has taken over all aspects of public life-including schools, police, and government-and the world is divided among economic blocs. Surnames reflect the company people work for, and, increasingly, the alliance of corporations to which the company belongs. When hapless Hack Nike, a lowly Merchandise Distribution Officer, runs into the wrong people-John Nike and (yes) John Nike, Vice Presidents-at the watercooler, he is inveigled into a highly illegal, unethical merchandising act. When he goes to the police for help, they sell him a contract (which he can't afford) to take the job off his hands, and then subcontract the work to the NRA, which botches it, putting Field Agent Jennifer Government on the case. Jennifer is a single mother with a savvy daughter, Kate Mattel (children take the name of their school), who is a bit of a heroine herself. A hard-boiled detective with a soft heart and a ready wisecrack, Jennifer has an enigmatic tattoo, a mysterious past, and a mission to bring down wrongdoers-especially at Nike. The story takes her on a madcap chase across the United States Economic Bloc from Melbourne to London, culminating in a bizarre world war with a surprising outcome. The cast includes quite a few characters, and while they aren't deep, they are colorful, pointed, and funny. This fast read should please a variety of teens with its hip attitude and hilarious turns, and could spark lively discussions.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

In a corporate-governed future world where people take the last names of the companies they work for, merchandising officer Hack Nike tries to get out of a contract that requires him to shoot teenagers, a situation that results in his unwitting involvement with an agent who is out to get Hack's employer. Reprint. 60,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

In a corporate-governed future world where people take the last names of the companies they work for, Hack Nike tries to get out of a contract that requires him to shoot teenagers and finds himself pursued by a government agent.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A wickedly satirical and outrageous thriller about globalization and marketing hype, Jennifer Government is the best novel in the world ever."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"Wicked and wonderful.... [It] does just about everything right.... Fast-moving, funny, involving." --The Washington Post Book WorldTaxation 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 $2500 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 go.