Jennifer Government

Max Barry
Jennifer Government Cover

Hollow Satire


It seems to me satire is too often an easy exit. In the name of satire, the characters become paper-thin and have illogical motivations, the plot makes no sense and ad hoc storylines are included just for the sake of a laugh.

I was looking forward immensely to Jennifer Government, but the book left me disappointed and - dare I say - bored. The subject is fine and very intriguing, but once you get past the initial pleasant shock of figuring out how this future world works, there is not much left.

The characters act stupidly because they're required to do so by the plot, and individually are really not that interesting. The plot is your basic 'Diverging characters do random acts until they are brought together for a grande finale.' Plot twists include random events such as 'Greedy corporate guy tries to force himself on protagonist's girlfriend so she can accidentally kill him with a toaster and be on the run', so it is hardly cutting-edge.

All this would stand on its own if the satire of corporate America was biting and on target. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, Jennifer Government doesn't have a lot to say about this. Corporations rule the world and everybody is individualistic to the extreme, except the heroes, of course. The fact the book refuses to touch on the impact of capitalism and individualism on a more personal level makes the metaphor very thin.

Indeed, making fun of Nike, McDonald's or the NRA turns out to be as much fun as shooting fish in a barrel.