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Perhaps Max Barry might thinks that he has written a brilliant social commentary disguised as a crummy adventure story. It is actually the reverse -- a brilliant action adventure story masquerading as a clumsy social protest.
The overall theme of the book is anti-capitalism. As a theme, I could take it or leave it. Max, however, doesn't execute this theme well. He relies exclusively on hyperbole to criticize. He offers no alternatives. All of the corporations are villain entities. Max seems to have a particular hate-on for the NRA because those characters are consistently both violent and incompetent.
The title character is a very static character, well developed, and fun. Jennifer Government is an investigator who is trying to expose a conspiracy to kill innocents. Her big plot twist is a little predictable, but I still enjoyed how Max brought drove me to that twist in the road. Although a loner by nature, she succeeds in the end only by accepting help from others.
The other lead, Hack Nike, is too dynamic. I don't mind that he experiences character growth, but his change is too sudden. His personality changes to the point of being unrecognizable, seemingly within two short scenes. Had he followed the Hero's Journey formula, I could have shrugged it off, but that simply isn't happening here.
The most fun part for me was the allegoric style. It is an allegory, and almost a classical allegory like Everyman. Characters have metaphoric names like John Nike, Billy NRA, and the Pepsi Kid. My favorite character is the Pepsi Kid, an overly excitable young executive whose name no one can remember.
The adventure takes a varied cast of characters around the globe and through four countries. The climatic action could have been over the proverbial top, but Max writes it with excellent balance of detail and pacing.
Micheal Kramer's reading is great, curiously with an American accent for a Australian cast.
Although problematic, I overall greatly enjoyed it.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
A really good, fun story with real connection to our "real" world. Well narrated but there were points were the political satire/sarcasm became preachy -- not enough to really harm the story -- but it was distracting and thereby detracted from an excellent read-
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
This book is certainly different. The essence of the story is well set out in the blurb above so I wont repeat it. Suffice it to say that the book is part-satire, part thriller and part romance. It is at its strongest when satirising the whole concept of marketing - for example, the marketing strategy for the new brand of Nike trainers is, well, different (I would spoil the story if I spelt it out) and the notion is developed and put across with great verve and savage humour.
If I had a criticism it is that the pace is a little uneven; the switch between styles - thriller, satire, romance - is not always successful. The author can't seem to strike a consistent balance between treating his characters as real people and as pawns in the satire. But that said, the narrative bowls along at a good pace and it is never dull - the narration is very good too; the story and characters are put across very well, and his handling of some of the more bizarre scenes is laugh out loud funny.
Overall, if you are looking for something a little different from the normal sort of audiobook thriller, "Jennifer Government" should be on your short list. I certainly enjoyed it, and anyone who works in marketing would I am sure enjoy the joke too.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
It is a great book. The book is about capitalism gone mad. Where people names are based on who they work for. And anything can be bought; or can it? This is where Jennifer comes in. She is a law enforcement person who thinks things should be done for the good of the people, not just for capital gain. Does she win out?
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
The story was rushed and forced a "it all ended happily every after" ending on the readers. A solid start but a disappointing ending and confusing progression. The narrator appears to attempt accents for each character that blend into one another (e.g texan guy sounds like a mutated bogan australian at times and a redneck at others) or an arguably racist accent (if Japan is part of the American Nations, and American is a standard accent spoken, why does the ONLY JAPANESE CHARACTER WITH LINES speak with a stereotypically bad (think a white person impersonating a japanese person) accent? It makes no sense.