Satire on consumerism and the Americanization of the world. Being a person disgusted by both of those things I had no trouble imagining the world that Barry created.
It is set in a future where most of the planet is part of America and corporations run the world. It was a quick read and while some of the content was violent and bleak, it remained kooky and upbeat enough that I didn't think the story was dark.
It didn't quiet feel like a dystopian society since very few people seemed unhappy with their lives and the fact that they were so owned by corporations that their own last name was whatever company they worked for.
Jennifer works for the government, thus Jennifer Government is her name; some of the other characters are John Nike, Hayley McDonald's, and Claire Sears(creepy, huh?). Everything is corporate owned and operated, even the schools.
This is one of those stories that I think is just "okay" while I read it, but I like it more afterward. It's the kind of story that I will remember forever and will be reminded of when I see over-the-top consumerism.
Brilliant satire, a fascinating and well written book.
This was a great read. My husband and I both read it. Since we're both fans of The Space Merchants, we loved the reference to it in this book.
Jennifer Government poses the most humorous "future gone wrong" I've encountered in the many of the other books of its kind that I've read. I've kind of been on a dystopian kick lately, and Barry's world of tomorrow isn't quite as grim as some other authors have dreamed up, but there've been some big changes.
First, 75% of the planet is now part of the United States, with only pockets of foreign countries still rooted in democracy and free market. The parts of the world governed by the US are under control of the corporations. In this future, people take on the last name of the company they work for -- for example, John Nike or Violet ExxonMobile. The Government now seeks to solve crimes but doesn't impart justice -- it's too expensive. The Police are third-party hit men for the corporations and private citizens, the NRA mercenaries for hire. It's crazy stuff.
The character development in Jennifer Government isn't great -- I didn't find myself caring about or relating to the central characters. The book's namesake, Jennifer Government, is a single mother with a secret, a former advertising wunderkid who now has cast off corporate life to work for the Government. Why is part of the central storyline. Another part of the problem is the sheer number of characters Barry throws at the readers. It's especially confusing when characters change jobs or employers, thus getting a new last name. Luckily, the story is fun enough to get past these problems. It's not going to earn a place among my favorite books, but I did enjoy Barry's satirical and cautionary tale of tomorrow, where consumerism has taken over and brand power is worth killing for.
This is a quick read, but a good one. It takes place in the future and paints a scary, almost-too-realistic view of what the world would be like if corporations took over. It also showcases the most frustrating points of bureaucracy in a way that make you shake your head and think, "That will be us 50 years from now." The web of characters just gets more complicated and interesting as the story goes on, and it has a satisfying ending. All in all, a great book!