Written by Max Barry in 2003, Jennifer Government is one of the most complex tales I've ever read. In a world of privatized government, where the corporations have so much power that your last name is that of your employer, people will do almost anything to sell their product. Did I say almost? I meant just anything. Including kill people for advertising purposes, right out in public.

Jennifer Government has 10 main characters. Of those, eight are arguably significant, and they are all very well interlinked with each other:

Hack Nike, who works for (you guessed it) Nike, is sent out on the aforementioned job, after having been to the wrong water cooler. His job is to assassinate ten lower income kids who happen to possess Nike Mercurys, which cost $2,500 per pair.

Hack's girlfriend, Violet Unemployed, had developed a worm that could slip through any anti-virus program, and physically fry the hard disks infected.

John Nike was fearing the day Jennifer Government would catch up on him. Not only was he a crooked businessman, he also betrayed Jennifer and her kid, Kate Mattel. Jennifer is obsessed with arresting her ex.

Buy Mitsui couldn't keep up the stock sales, so he found only one way out: the lead pill. Until Claire Sears taught him otherwise.

Billy Bechtel wanted to go skiing, but somehow he happened to land in the ultra-militaristic NRA. A recent sting he was caught in found Jennifer's attention.

A story of this caliber is all well and good, but it failed on the method of execution. Rather than having 8 distinct parts, one for each character, it had 6 parts, arbitrarily divided. In addition, the perspective switched so fast between characters that I was confused as to what had just happened. Having two guys named John Nike didn't help on that point, either.

However, with careful reading, Jennifer Government should take its place right up next to Brave New World and 1984, as one of the best dystopian novels of all time.

In addition, Max Barry's promoting Jennifer Government at www.nationstates.com, where you can read the first chapter.

I came away from Jennifer Government...unenthused. The 'shock bits' - corporations running our lives? Running the world? Franchised sovereignty? All those have been done before. Snow Crash is but one recent example of the franchise conglomerate extrapolation machine. Network comes to mind. Max Headroom. Corporate entities 'discovering' military combat? Old news. The British East India Company did it, albeit not against competitors. The Robber Barons got up to a whole bunch of mischief out there in the not-so-lawful areas, mostly with guns, lots of times with private armies.

As TanisNikana has mentioned, the writing style is staccato and jarring - you switch viewpoints so fast your brain gets left behind, and names like Hack Nike and Buy Mitsui and Claire Sears all read as incredibly similar. When they're sharing the scene, it becomes impossible to tell who's doing what to who without a program. Barry seems to really enjoy half-page scenes on each character at a time, and I just couldn't keep up the pace. The whole 'corporate branding' of characters just got old extremely fast.

Finally, the plot is fairly simple - read pedestrian. I think it would have to be; he's juggling so many 'main' characters so fast and frantically that it would be self-destructive to make it more fleshed-out and complex. As it was, though, I just couldn't be drawn into anyone's motivations or character. I felt like I could have a 3x5 card for each character with five bullet points about them on it, and I could easily dispense with 90% of the character actions in the book.

In any case, it was, indeed, an 'interesting' book. Just not one that will hold a prized place on my shelf. Still, a beautiful woman with that tattoo under her eye...that'd catch my attention in a bar. right damn quick.

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