Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Jul 9, 2007

Jennifer Government

Sometimes you have to ask yourself: why did I get this book? Well in this case I'll tell you flat out: it had my name in the title. I wasn't really expecting much, in fact I had a hard time reading it objectively because I was expecting it to be Libertarian propaganda.

It's not, though, or at least not exactly. Instead, the book is a remarkably honest take on what happens when the government is not capable of/allowed to fulfil its important and necessary functions. A corporate representative says it best near the end of the book, at the moment you might almost identify as the climax: "This isn't freedom, John. It's anarchy."

Max Barry, the author, does not have a lot of love for big corporations, and this shows in the plot of Jennifer Government. A marketing executive, John, at Nike Corporation hits on the idea of building "street cred" for Nike's latest ultra-expensive shoes by having some of the first customers capped. Image-conscious teenagers will be thrilled to be seen in lethal shoes. It is beneath the mighty marketeer, however, to actually carry out these planned killings, so he bullies some poor merchandising rep into signing a contract without reading it.

Everything becomes chaos from there. The shootings draw the attention of Jennifer Government, an embittered agent and single mother that wants to see justice done even though the Government doesn't have the budget for that sort of thing. The remainder of the plot involves kidnapping, a computer virus, and an all-out corporate war involving missiles and guns instead of more traditional standbys like money and advertising.

It's a fun book and fairly short; the kind of novel you take to the beach so that you can fall asleep with it on your face about halfway through and amuse the tourists. The corporation angst felt kind of dated, though, seeing as how this is increasingly the world of The Long Tail. Part of what keeps mega-corporations in existence any more are government subsidies and regulations that keep new entries from competing effectively. In a world without that insulation the mega-corporations will dwindle unless they really do provide unmatched service.

Max Barry also has a very funny website that you can visit if you are so inclined.

Sing it with me now: "You're so vain . . . you prob'ly think this book is about you . . ."

Rating: 3.0


Rational Jenn said...

Maybe it's about me?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

The name thing--it's why I shop at Jennifer Convertibles for sofas.

Jennifer Snow said...

Heh, I would probably also shop there if I were actually in the market for a sofa at any point.