Jennifer Government

Max Barry
Jennifer Government Cover

Jennifer Government


I'll have to be honest with you, I really am not sure if this novel was set in some kind of futuristic, dystopian society, or if it was set in an alternate reality of our current society. At first I thought it might be futuristic, but in one scene two people are fighting "Black Friday" style for a VCR on sale. Now this book was written in 2002 and so VCR would have still been a viable medium at that point, so this has me leaning towards alternate reality.

Not that it matters in the slightest when the novel was set, but that was just one of many things that bugged me about this book. The plot was good, and the set-up was filled with potential. A society so controlled by corporations, that a people no longer have surnames, but instead take on the last name of the company or school they attend, thus the name of the novel is the name of the main character, Jennifer Government. The most glaring problem with this book, was that there was not much "there" there. Once I got past the shock of the corporations basically running the world, I realized that the characters are very flat and kind of one dimensional. They also make was appear to be very dumb choices, but are required to make these decisions to move the characters into a position to fit where the plot was going. The most glaring example to me was Jennifer Government herself. She apparently loves her daughter, but choses to leave her with a man she had a one-night stand with while she goes overseas in search of the "Bad Guy" John Nike. Now The man she left her child with turned out to be a good and decent man, but she did not know that!

And yet, I still found myself wanting to know how the book was going to end, Max Barry, you must be some kind of evil genius, or the lack of sleep from all the hours I have been working are seriously making me loopy in a bibliophilic way.

I'm going to give this one 2.5 stars, and don't ask me why because I'm not sure I would be able to justify one that high.