Books

Jennifer Government

In Max Barry's latest novel, Jennifer Government, employees take on their company's last name and practice an even stranger form of capitalism.Just when you thought (after years of brainwashing) commercialism had reached its pinnacle, Barry shows a whole new genre of advertising stunts. In the not-too-distant future, the author paints a grim picture of our money-driven society. He suggests companies have gotten so competitive, they will actually kill people to make their product sell.

This is where heroine Jennifer Government comes in. She works for the government, speaks with sharp wit and seems to be the only good force fighting the evil corporations (and she's a government employee?! Yeah, right). Her character is animated and almost cartoon-like, yet the reader can relate to her on a real level. She is not invincible and she doesn't give up, using satire to wade through her dilemmas. Jennifer's satire and determination are unique qualities ably captured by the author.

Reading this book, at times, is like reading a script. In fact, before publication, Jennifer Government was sold to Section Eight Films Co. Barry's social satire is filled with several good ideas, even though at times his weird dystopia needs a little tweaking. He throws in names like Wal-Mart, Nike and American Express in an almost-litigious manner.

When it comes to violence, Barry's writing shines. The author likes his carnage Tarantino-style. His shoot-ups are descriptive and his deadpan dialogue becomes colorful. There are several story lines moving back and forth in time, and Barry leads one to believe he has come up with a catch phrase that soon may be plastered on movie theater walls with Clooney's mug attached. And despite its few faults, Jennifer Government moves at a quick pace, and makes for good reading.

Oh yeah, what's with the weird barcode tattoo under the heroine's eye? Let's just say it wasn't government issued.

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