Tuesday, July 3, 2012

#573: Jennifer the hit-man

A book review by Tad Blogger

In the future, you can bet that making a living is going 2 B even harder than it is right now.
Much harder.
That's the whole premise behind Max Barry's JENNIFER GOVERNMENT (2003), a fast-paced, complex, laff-out-loud funny novel that depicts a future where global corporate competitiveness has reached its illogical final step.
In this vivid, frantic, surfacey future, people give up their real last names & adopt the names of the corporations they work 4. In this future, the global corporations R HUGE & government is small.
When 2 sociopathic middle-managers 4 a certain global shoe manufacturer concoct a murder scheme 2 further inflate the price of their newest astronomically-priced (& therefore totally cool) tennisshoes, special agent Jennifer Government vows 2 track down the Bad Guys -- but she has 2 go 2 the murder victims' families 1st 2 obtain enuf funding 2 support an investigation.
This is just the 1st stage in a complicated story that scores laffs off of cutting-edge marketing & promotion techniques, people who give up their lives 4 their careers, tunnel-visioned Big Bizness types, worldwide selling strategies, & more.
Oh, & corporate espionage & warfare. Let's not 4get that.
As outrageous as some of the things that happen in this book R, most of the Good Guys R Real People -- you will care about these characters & B cheering 4 them. Only the 2 major Bad Guys veer NEwhere near being stereotypes -- they R just as Bad as they need 2 B. The book climaxes with some hilariously ugly scenes in A Mall. Naturally. & there's a happy ending 4 almost every1....
If you crossed George Orwell's 1984 with a can of Rockstar or Monster energy drink, you might end up with something like this book. As I read it, I thot it was very much a novel 4 the Internet generation -- fast-paced, constantly moving, lotsa characters 2 keep track of, lotsa scene-changes, short chapters, global viewpoint, seeming much shorter than its 300+ pgs....
If you could read the novel in the headlong rush it seems 2 have bn written in, it might work even better -- but I couldn't get thru it that fast. By the end I was having trouble keeping track of who had interacted with who, who answered 2 whom, who had done who wrong, etc. Luckily, Barry kept it all Just Clear Enuf. Might make a really good, fast-paced screwball-comedy movie. Or a video game.
Barry notes that he thot about calling the novel CAPITALIZM, & there R some very clear lessons about how brutal capitalism can B included herein. Luckily, they R mostly played 4 laffs. But the sometimes painful reality is pretty clear 2, just under the surface.
Can't quite buy the back-cover claim that JENNIFER GOVERNMENT is "the best novel in the world ever," but it is a lot of outrageous fun, a wild ride. Barry has written a few other novels -- he makes it look like NEbody could write novels, & I mean that in the best possible way. On the strength of this 1, I already hava copy of his novel SYRUP in the house. Because I 2 am a good capitalist consumer. We'll C how SYRUP works out....

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