Jennifer Government

Jennifer Government

by Max Barry

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400076345
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/06/2004
Series: Vintage Contemporaries
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 606,309
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Max Barry is an Australian, for which he apologizes. He is the author of the cult hit Syrup, although he spelled his name “Maxx” for that novel, “because it seemed like a funny joke about marketing, and I failed to realize everyone would assume I was a pretentious asshole.” He was born on March 18, 1973, and lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he writes full-time, the advantage being that he can do it while wearing boxer shorts.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Read an Excerpt

1 Nike

Hack first heard about Jennifer Government at the watercooler. He was only there because the one on his floor was out; Legal was going to come down on Nature's Springs like a ton of shit, you could bet on that. Hack was a Merchandise Distribution Officer. This meant when Nike made up a bunch of posters, or caps, or beach towels, Hack had to send them to the right place. Also, if someone called up complaining about missing posters, or caps, or beach towels, Hack had to take the call. It wasn't as exciting as it used to be.

"It's a calamity," a man at the watercooler said. "Four days away from launch and Jennifer Government's all over my ass."

"Jee-sus," his companion said. "That's gotta suck."

"It means we have to move fast." He looked at Hack, who was filling his cup. "Hi there."

Hack looked up. They were smiling at him as if he was an equal--but of course, Hack was on the wrong floor. They didn't know he was just a Merc Officer. "Hi."

"Haven't seen you around before," the calamity guy said. "You new?"

"No. I work in Merc."

"Oh." His nose wrinkled.

"Our cooler's out," Hack said. He turned away quickly.

"Hey, wait up," the suit said. "You ever do any marketing work?"

"Uh," he said, not sure if this was a joke. "No."

The suits looked at each other. The calamity guy shrugged. Then they stuck out their hands. "I'm John Nike, Guerrilla Marketing Operative, New Products."

"And I'm John Nike, Guerrilla Marketing Vice-President, New Products," the other suit said.

"Hack Nike," Hack said, shaking.

"Hack, I'm empowered to make midrange labor-contracting decisions," Vice-President John said. "You interested in some work?"

"Some . . ." He felt his throat thicken. "Marketing work?"

"On a case-by-case basis, of course," the other John said.

Hack started to cry.

"There," a John said, handing him a handkerchief. "You feel better?"

Hack nodded, shamed. "I'm sorry."

"Hey, don't worry about it," Vice-President John said. "Career change can be very stressful. I read that somewhere."

"Here's the paperwork." The other John handed him a pen and a sheaf of papers. The first page said CONTRACT TO PERFORM SERVICE, and the others were in type too small to read.

Hack hesitated. "You want me to sign this now?"

"It's nothing to worry about. Just the usual noncompetes and nondisclosure agreements."

"Yeah, but . . ." Companies were getting a lot tougher on labor contracts these days; Hack had heard stories. At Adidas, if you quit your job and your replacement wasn't as competent, they sued you for lost profits.

"Hack, we need someone who can make snap decisions. A fast mover."

"Someone who can get things done. With a minimum of fucking around."

"If that's not your style, well . . . let's forget we spoke. No harm done. You stick to Merchandising." Vice-President John reached for the contract.

"I can sign it now," Hack said, tightening his grip.

"It's totally up to you," the other John said. He took the chair beside Hack, crossed his legs, and rested his hands at the juncture, smiling. Both Johns had good smiles, Hack noticed. He guessed everyone in marketing did. They had pretty similar faces, too. "Just at the bottom there."

Hack signed.

"Also there," the John said. "And on the next page . . . and one there. And there."

"Glad to have you on board, Hack." Vice-President John took the contract, opened a drawer, and dropped it inside. "Now. What do you know about Nike Mercurys?"

Hack blinked. "They're our latest product. I haven't actually seen a pair, but . . . I heard they're great."

The Johns smiled. "We started selling Mercurys six months ago. You know how many pairs we've shifted since then?"

Hack shook his head. They cost thousands of dollars each, but that wouldn't stop people from buying them. They were the hottest sneakers in the world. "A million?"

"Two hundred."

"Two hundred million?"

"No. Two hundred pairs."

"John here," the other John said, "pioneered the concept of marketing by refusing to sell any products. It drives the market insane."

"And now it's time to cash in. On Friday we're gonna dump four hundred thousand pairs on the market at two and a half grand each."

"Which, since they cost us--what was it?"

"Eighty-five."

"Since they cost us eighty-five cents to manufacture, gives us a gross margin of around one billion dollars." He looked at Vice-President John. "It's a brilliant campaign."

"It's really just common sense," John said. "But here's the thing, Hack: if people realize every mall in the country's got Mercurys, we'll lose all that prestige we've worked so hard to build. Am I right?"

"Yeah." Hack hoped he sounded confident. He didn't really understand marketing.

"So you know what we're going to do?"

He shook his head.

"We're going to shoot them," Vice-President John said. "We're going to kill anyone who buys a pair."

Silence. "What?" Hack said.

The other John said, "Well, not everyone, obviously. We figure we only have to plug . . . what did we decide? Five?"

"Ten," Vice-President John said. "To be safe."

"Right. We take out ten customers, make it look like ghetto kids, and we've got street cred coming out our asses. I bet we shift our inventory within twenty-four hours."

"I remember when you could always rely on those little street kids to pop a few people for the latest Nikes," Vice-President John said. "Now people get mugged for Reeboks, for Adidas--for generics, for Christ's sake."

"The ghettos have no fashion sense anymore," the other John said. "I swear, they'll wear anything."

"It's a disgrace. Anyway, Hack, I think you get the point. This is a groundbreaking campaign."

"Talk about edgy," the other John said. "This defines edgy."

"Um . . ." Hack said. He swallowed. "Isn't this kind of . . . illegal?"

"He wants to know if it's illegal," the John said, amused. "You're a funny guy, Hack. Yes, it's illegal, killing people without their consent, that's very illegal."

Vice-President John said, "But the question is: what does it cost? Even if we get found out, we burn a few million on legal fees, we get fined a few million more . . . bottom-line, we're still way out in front."

Hack had a question he very much didn't want to ask. "So . . . this contract . . . what does it say I'll do?"

The John beside him folded his hands. "Well, Hack, we've explained our business plan. What we want you to do is . . ."

"Execute it," Vice-President John said.

2 McDonald's

Until she stood in front of them, Hayley didn't realize how many of her classmates were blond. It was like a beach out there. She'd missed the trend. Hayley would have to hotfoot it to a hairdresser after school.

"When you're ready," the teacher said.

She looked at her note cards and took a breath. "Why I Love America, by Hayley McDonald's. America is the greatest group of countries in the world because we have freedom. In countries like France, where the Government isn't privatized, they still have to pay tax and do whatever the Government says, which would really suck. In USA countries, we respect individual rights and let people do whatever they want."

The teacher jotted something in his folder. McDonald's-sponsored schools were cheap like that: at Pepsi schools, everyone had notebook computers. Also their uniforms were much better. It was so hard to be cool with the Golden Arches on your back.

"Before USA countries abolished tax, if you didn't have a job, the Government took money from working people and gave it to you. So, like, the more useless you were, the more money you got." No response from her classmates. Even the teacher didn't smile. Hayley was surprised: she'd thought that one was a crack-up.

"But now America has all the best companies and all the money because everyone works and the Government can't spend money on stupid things like advertising and elections and making new laws. They just stop people stealing or hurting each other and everything else is taken care of by the private sector, which everyone knows is more efficient." She looked at her notes: yep, that was it. "Finally I would like to say that America is the greatest group of countries in the world and I am proud to live in the Australian Territories of the USA!"

A smattering of applause. It was the eighth talk this period: she guessed it was getting harder to work up enthusiasm for capitalizm. Hayley headed for her seat.

"Hold it," the teacher said. "I have questions."

"Oh," Hayley said.

"Are there any positive aspects to tax?"

She relaxed: a gimme question. "Some people say tax is good because it gives money to people who don't have any. But those people must be lazy or stupid, so why should they get other people's money? Obviously the answer is no."

The teacher blinked. He made a note. That must have been an impressive answer, Hayley thought. "What about social justice?"

"What?"

"Is it fair that some people should be rich while others have nothing?"

She shifted from one foot to the other. She was just remembering: this teacher had a thing about poor people. He was always bringing them up. "Um, yeah, it's fair. Because if I study really hard for a test and get an A and Emily doesn't and fails"--renewed interest from the class; Emily raised blond eyebrows--"then it's not fair to take some of my marks and give them to her, is it?"

The teacher frowned. Hayley felt a flash of panic. "Another thing, in non-USA countries they want everyone to be the same, so if your sister is born blind, then they blind you, too, to make it even. But how unfair is that? I would much rather be an American than a European Union . . . person." She gave the class a big smile. They clapped, much more enthusiastically than before. She added hopefully, "Is that all?"

"Yes. Thank you."

Relief! She started walking. A cute boy in the third row winked at her.

The teacher said, "Although, Hayley, they don't really blind people in non-USA countries."

Hayley stopped. "Well, that's kind of hypocritical, isn't it?"

The class cheered. The teacher opened his mouth, then shut it. Hayley took her seat. Kick ass, she thought. She had aced this test.

3 The Police

Hack sat in traffic, biting his nails. This had not been a good day. He was beginning to think that visiting the marketing floor for a cup of water was the worst mistake he'd ever made.

He turned into a side street and parked his Toyota. It rattled angrily and let loose a puff of black smoke. Hack really needed a new car. Maybe if this job paid off, he could move out of St. Kilda. He could get an apartment with some space, maybe some natural light--

He shook his head angrily. What was he thinking? He wasn't going to shoot anyone. Not even for a better apartment.

He climbed the stairs to the second floor and let himself in. Violet was sitting cross-legged on the living-room floor with her notebook computer in her lap. Violet was his girlfriend. She was the only unemployed person he'd had ever met, not counting homeless people who asked him for money. She was an entrepreneur. Violet was probably going to be rich one day: she was smart and determined. Sometimes Hack wasn't sure why they were together.

He dropped his briefcase and shrugged off his jacket. The table was littered with bills. Hack hadn't bargained very well in his last performance evaluation and it was really biting him now. "Violet?"

"Mmm?"

"Can we talk?"

She didn't look up. "Is it important?"

"Yes."

She frowned. Hack waited. Violet didn't like being disturbed during her work. She didn't like being disturbed at all. She was short and thin with long brown hair, which made her look much more fragile than she really was. "What's up?"

He sat on the sofa. "I did something stupid."

"Oh, Hack, not again."

Hack had missed a couple of turnoffs on the way home lately: last Tuesday he'd gotten himself onto a premium road and eaten through eleven dollars in tolls before he found an exit. "No, something really stupid."

"What happened?"

"Well, I got offered some work . . . some marketing work--"

"That's great! We could really use the extra money."

"--and I signed a contract without reading it."

Pause. "Oh," Violet said. "Well, it might be okay--"

"It says I have to kill people. It's some kind of promotional campaign. I have to, um, kill ten people."

For a moment she said nothing. He hoped she wasn't going to shout at him. "I'd better look at that contract."

He dropped his head.

"You don't have a copy?"

"No."

"Oh, Hack."

"I'm sorry."

Violet chewed her lip. "Well, you can't go through with it. The Government's not as pussy as people think. They'd get you for sure. But then, you don't know what the penalties in that contract are . . . I think you should go to the Police."

"Really?"

"There's a station on Chapel Street. When are you meant to . . . do it?"

"Friday."

"You should go. Right now."

"Okay. You're right." He picked up his jacket. "Thanks, Violet."

"Why does this kind of thing always happen to you, Hack?"

"I don't know," he said. He felt emotional. He shut the door carefully behind him.

The station was only a few blocks away, and as it came into view he began to feel hopeful. The building was lit up in blue neon, with THE POLICE in enormous letters and a swirling light above that. If anyone could help him out of this situation, Hack felt it would be someone who worked in a place like this.

The doors slid open and he walked up to the reception desk. A woman in uniform--either a real cop or a receptionist dressed in theme, Hack didn't know which--smiled. Playing over the PA system was the song from their TV ads, "Every Breath You Take."

"Good evening, how can I help you?"

"I have a matter I'd like to discuss with an officer, please."

"May I ask the nature of your problem?"

"Um," he said. "I've been contracted to kill someone. Some people, actually."

The receptionist's eyebrows rose a fraction, then settled. Hack felt relieved. He didn't want to be chastised by the receptionist. "Take a seat, sir. An officer will be right with you."

Hack dropped into a soft, blue chair and waited. A few minutes later, a cop came out and stopped in front of him. Hack rose.

"I'm Senior Sergeant Pearson Police," the man said. He shook Hack's hand firmly. He had a small, trim mustache but otherwise looked pretty capable. "Please accompany me."


From the Hardcover edition.

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Jennifer Government 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 103 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Usually when an author attempts to introduce their cast of characters individually, and thread them together throughout the story, it turns into disjointed, mess. The book turns into several five hundred page novels of no less than three volumes, the characters take a back seat to a convoluted plot, and the story moves a turtles pace, while the reader hopes the author stops being coy, and gets the characters together, so they can get on with the story. This is not the case with Max Barry¿s latest novel, Jennifer Government, however. The novel centers around several characters living in a not so distant, and not altogether unrealistic future, where corporations run everything, and one¿s job determines their surname. (hence the title, named after the novel¿s protagonist) Barry takes the time to make his readers invest something in his carefully crafted characters, and moves the plot along at a break-neck pace, making the book almost impossible to put down. Add to that that, the book is also satirical in nature, and neither the story or characters suffer, and you have a very enjoyable thought-provoking read. The book makes it¿s point(s) without beating the reader over the head, and the moral questions asked of the reader are presented in such an open-ended way it allows them to come to their own conclusions. A funny, challenging book, which will be part of high school reading curriculums in years to come.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first heard about this book on Barry's Nationstates game, so I decided to check it out.. I'm glad I did! It's hilarious, full of witty comments and odd twists
Guest More than 1 year ago
Max Barry creates a world (more like an 'America') ruled in a nearly absolute free market society. Due to budget restrictions in a world where contracts and profits mean more to people than the quality of human life, the government wields its power in an 'equal' playing field with the wheelings and dealings of coporations, monopolies, merges, and coporate takeovers. I gave this book 4 and a half stars as opposed to 5 because the falling action all the way to the book's ending seemed like it was rushed in its efforts to end the book by 300 pages and it didn't take enough time to intricately gel the characters in the end as Barry so brilliantly did in its build-up. 'Jennifer Government' is still a great read despite my criticism on its ending. I enjoyed the book's evolution and transition from Hack's plight as a lowly Merc Officer at Nike to the stand-off between US Alliance and Team Advantage, although I didn't find the book as 'humorous' as many critics make it out to seem.
kikilon on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Brilliantly 1984, this dystopian novel talks about what happens when consumerism takes over the world. An intellectual read with a fast storyline. I bought this book because of the web-based game the author had created a while back. Creative marketing at its finest.
library_bird on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Interesting look at how corporations might run the world if they didn't have to bother about so many laws. When the government can't tax and can only prevent crime, not persecute criminals (without obtaining funding to do so -- from the victims) it makes hunting down corporate soldiers somewhat difficult. I thought the book was fast-paced and had a nice array of characters.
Ideiosepius on LibraryThing 8 months ago
An ultimate sci-fi cyberpunk. More that anything a social commentary. I suspect that like Orwell in 1984 Barry was using future fiction to highlight present issues.
nakmeister on LibraryThing 8 months ago
It is the future, and the world is run by giant American corporations. Everybody's surname is the name of the company they work for - and if you're unemployed you have no status and no surname.Hack Nike is a lowly merchandising officer, and is delighted when he gets a job marketing a range of new, really, really expensive trainers. He's less than thrilled though when he discovers that his new job involves shooting teenagers...This is a slick and fast paced thriller, tightly written and with some brilliant ideas. It's a witty novel that does a good job of exposing the flaws in our society, and the scariest thing is that you can almost imagine it really happening...Very highly recommended. This is the paperback version, and is about 300 pages long.
grizzly.anderson on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Jennifer Government is the book equivalent of an early summer big action adventure movie that where Jean-Claude Van Damme or The Rock or somebody explains that "Too Much Capitalism Is Bad" with approximately the same degree of subtlety they bring to the rest of their acting.If you go in knowing that it you're getting an action thriller about capitalism run amok then you'll have a few hours of fun escapist reading. If you're looking for a thoughtful analysis of capitalism and greed, or a carefully plotted thriller mystery where the ending comes as any kind of surprise you'll be horribly disappointed.
kikianika on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Brilliantly 1984, this dystopian novel talks about what happens when consumerism takes over the world. An intellectual read with a fast storyline. I bought this book because of the web-based game the author had created a while back. Creative marketing at its finest.
kfschmid on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Poor execution of the interesting premise. Actually pretty terrible.
imnotsatan on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Barry doesn't tread any new ground with this novel, but it's a fun little read. It won't change your life- or maybe it will if it's your first exposure to the genre- but I still recommend it. I would say, though, that the cast is just a little too large for what the author's really going for, and it weakens the novel. There's a reason that really classic cyberpunk novels have a single protagonist (with the exception, perhaps, of Count Zero). Still, pick it up- it's fun.
trinityM82 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Good - dystopian novel that verges on not being young adult (mature themes like sex is implied, and kind of violent). Jennifer is an agent of the Government bent on stopping her ex husband from ruining the world. Corporations own people - schools are fun by corporations as well, and the U.S. owns other countries, like Australia. A marketing rep, John Nike, has ten people killed in order to generate interest in the newest brand of shoes. He hires out to an underling (Hack), who screws it up, and Jennifer gets wind of it and she's on his trail. Nike wants to go to war, literarlly, with the other organization of brands (team advantage vs u.s. alliance - kind of like wegmans cards vs price chopper cards) and he tries to get people to kill hte president - the NRA is the brand associated with US Alliance. Everything works out in the end, though. Jennifer has a daughter, who she ignores - kind of- in favor of her job as she tries to save the world. Buy, a stock broker, has a crisis, but is saved by Jennifer, and her daughter, who gives his life purpose. It shows what people are willing to do to b e successful, and the world is reasonably constructed.
jwarner6 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The world is run by American corporations; taxes are illegal; employees take the last names of the companies they work for; the Police and the NRA is a publicly-traded security firm; and the U.S. government only investigates crimes it can bill for. Hack Nike is a Merchandising Officer who discovers an all-new way to sell sneakers. Buy Mitsui is a stockbroker with a death-wish. Billy NRA is finding out that life in a private army isn't all snappy uniforms and code names. And Jennifer Government, a legendary agent with a barcode tattoo, is the consumer watchdog from hell.
bluesalamanders on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I think I put this on my tbr list mostly because of the title, which I found intriguing. And the cover, which I think is fantastic. And, amazingly enough, the cover is actually relevant to the book (unusual with F&SF books).So, this is a science fiction - speculative fiction? - book that takes place in a future where the government is weak and almost laughable, and corporations are governments unto themselves. More or less. People take the last name of the company they work for - hence Jennifer Government, also John Nike, Claire Sears, Buy Mitsui, and so on. A Nike marketing rep decides to artificially increase the value of the new product by fast-talking some poor schmo into doing something he doesn't want to do, and then it all goes to hell.This is a very fast-paced book, I think the whole think takes place over just a few days, and one thing after another just keeps happening, bam bam bam. I liked it, but at the same time it's kind of terrifying, because I can see ways that our world may be headed in that direction, and that's not my idea of a great future.
MrsHillReads on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is an Abe Book this year; I doubt if it wins, but it is thought provoking. In it's way, it seemed like a spin off the old classic 1984. As I was reading it, I kept thinking that it seemed like it should be a movie...one of those over-the-top farces. This is not my favorite book; I don't know that I even liked it; but satire probably isn't something that I enjoy reading.
GaylDasherSmith on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Very inventive. A sci-fi story of what the world might be like if the U.S. continues expanding and if our big corporations were to get even bigger. Might they ever decide they don't want to deal with the government and it's regulations, so they just eliminate it?
JohnMunsch on LibraryThing 8 months ago
All three of the science fiction books I read recently had an excellent premise or set of premises upon which they were based. However all three books managed to put books of varying quality around those ideas. In my opinion the most successful was Jennifer Government. It isn't just an entertaining and at times funny look at brand identity taken to 11 on the dial, it is also an interesting read from beginning to end. I recommend this book pretty highly.
jwhalen on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A look at a future world in which the government has been privatized. Jennifer government, a government agent, corporte watchdog and single mom, who has eto chase Hack Nike who doesn't have his platinum credit card.
penwing on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I remember the hype around this and NationStates (the accompanying game). I focused more on the NationStates (I was probably penwingland or somethign similar) and never got round to reading the book (poor at the time). I received this book as my SantaThing gift and have only recently picked it up. It's not exactly been screaming at me to read it. I was surprised at how little the book has to do with the game. In the game you make political decisions based on scenarios and options. The scenarios are very widely spread and allow your country to develop in many different directions. The book is about only one direction - unbridalled free trade and minimal government interference. Where Murder is a calculated business risk (will the fine outweigh the profit) rather than a moral issue.Overall this was an enjoyable conspiracy/scifi/actioner with some agreeable social-politcal commentary. Glad I've finally read it, but wouldn't list it anywhere in my greatest books of all time.
takieya on LibraryThing 8 months ago
It¿s an interesting take on our future in this tale of a dystopian society. Well paced, and fun to read, I highly recommend Jennifer Government to anyone who doesn¿t like big corporations, and who would be amused by seeing what could happen where companies will do anything to win consumers loyalty. Fantastic.
danahlongley on LibraryThing 8 months ago
With tongue firmly in cheek, this book tackles a sci-fi nightmare where corporations rule the world. It was definitely entertaining and clever, but it never fully drew me in. The characters are somewhat unlikable and or one dimensional. But it moves at a good pace and is a quick read, so it's a thumbs up for those who like their fiction thick with satire.
slothman on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A satirical look at rampant capitalism in the classic ¿if this goes on¿ mode of science fiction. Barry¿s tale takes place in a near future where all surnames in the United States Federated Economic Blocs are now corporate affiliations. The action starts when overly ambitious executives from Nike¿s Guerrilla Marketing department decide to arrange murders over their most exclusive line of shoe as a publicity stunt, and this touches off a cascade of conflicts that escalate up to confrontations that could topple the government. Reviewers compare it to Catch-22; it does have a similar mix of madcap and grim. As cutthroat-capitalist futures go, this one is more lighthearted than Richard Morgan¿s Market Forces, but the depiction of competition between McDonald¿s and Burger King escalating into riots is still quite believable.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Jennifer Government is fast paced and thrilling. Max Barry has everything from corporate greed, kidnapping, the NRA, and of course, murder. Set in the plausible near future there is a level of sexiness to the way Barry writes. He makes his characters move around each other in a cat and mouse manner, always flirting while outsmarting each other. In the center is Jennifer Government. She lives in a world where people take the place of their employment as their last names (Hack Nike and Jennifer Government and Billy NRA to name a few), 911 won't respond to emergencies unless the capability for payment can be established, and taxes are outlawed. Jennifer could be the next Laura Croft, fighting old demons and new crimes. So, when her daughter is kidnapped things get personal. But, that's the climax of the story. It all starts with Nike cooking up a marketing scheme to build of street cred for a new line of $2,500 sneakers by committing murder...
BeckyJG on LibraryThing 8 months ago
In the future no one will want to pay taxes to support the government. Everyone will want all services to be privatized, and they will wear corporate logos to show their brand loyalty. In the future everyone will be a consumer and everything will be a product. In the future there will be artificially created runs on must-have products, and people will be willing to spend outrageously inflated amounts of money on such trivial items as sneakers and molded plastic dolls.Hey. Wait a minute. That sounds suspiciously like the present.In the not-so-distant future of Max Barry's Jennifer Government multi-national corporations run society. The geo-politico-economic world consists mostly of the United States and its federated economic blocs--Central and South America, the U.K., Russia, Australia and New Zealand, a wee bit of Africa and some of Asia; the non-United States economic blocs--the European Union, some of Asia; and what's left of the rest of the world consists of fragmented markets. The Police, a publicly traded securities firm with a theme song ("Every Breath You Take") that plays on a loop in the lobby, will take up your case for a fee. The Government still exists, and even retains some ideals, such as a belief in basic human rights and the greater good, but is stymied by the fee-based system upon which it runs. Employees like Jennifer Government, derive their surnames from the entity that employs them. No job? No last name.Jennifer Government--who has her own very good reasons for questioning the corporate structure of society, although they won't be revealed until late in the action--has been assigned to stop several killings at the Nike Town in a local mall. The killings are part of a guerrilla marketing plan designed to heighten interest in the new Nike Mercury. (Although the Government has to charge citizens who've been victims for any investigations conducted into the crime against them, it does have a small budget for the prevention of crime.) Hack Nike, the low level Nike employee to whom the assignment had been given subcontracted it to the Police, who sub-subcontracted it to the NRA, another publicly traded securities firm which consists of a lot of bad-ass dudes. Jennifer Government fails to prevent the crime; the NRA kills fourteen kids instead of the assigned ten, and shoots Jennifer Government in the process.Boy is she pissed. Jennifer's movements--sometimes officially sanctioned and sometimes not, for she's a bit of a maverick--take her from Melbourne to London to Los Angeles, as she tracks John Nike, the architect of the guerrilla marketing campaign, an increasingly powerful and increasingly nefarious executive. Side plots which follow a loose group of anti-corporate guerrillas, a narcissistic computer hacker, and a suicidal stock broker all come together pretty neatly by novel's end.Jennifer Government is a good, capably written, often funny, and always thought-provoking dystopian novel. Definitely recommended as a quick, fun read. And don't worry--the meaning of the bar code tattoo is indeed revealed.
melydia on LibraryThing 8 months ago
In a world where capitalism is so prized that you take your employer as your last name, Hack Nike accidentally finds himself part of a marketing scheme to sell sneakers by killing customers. I suppose one could see this as a cautionary tale against over-privatization (the NRA is basically a bunch of guns for hire, schools are run by toy companies where new Barbies are part of the curriculum, etc.), but I was too amused by the absurdity of it all to take it too seriously. Jennifer Government is, as her name suggests, a government agent attempting to catch the people behind the sneaker shootings. At the same time, Hack¿s somewhat unstable girlfriend Violet attempts to make a fortune selling a nasty new computer virus, stockbroker Buy Mitsui makes a random act of kindness that drives him to ponder suicide, and Billy Bechtel attempts to go on a skiing holiday and somehow ends up as a hired assassin. The whole thing is positively silly, but a lot of fun nonetheless. If you like satire in the vein of Catch-22, you¿ll probably enjoy this one.