Hack Nike is a Merchandising Officer who discovers an all-new way to sell sneakers. Buy Mitsui is a stockbroker with a death-wish. Billy NRA is finding out that life in a private army isn’t all snappy uniforms and code names. And Jennifer Government, a legendary agent with a barcode tattoo, is the consumer watchdog from hell.
(- Max Barry)
Jennifer Government follows the title character and a host of others through a series of events instigated by corporations with the goal of improving profits (by limiting competition, marketing with illegal means and eventually removing all government regulations). In a world where corporations rule and people are content to go along with it the search for profit expands to daring campaigns such as Nike’s move to increase the street cred’ of a high-priced, high-hyped new sneaker by having 10 teens killed, making it seem that “ghetto kids” are killing for the shoes. The audacity of corporations and a key player from Nike increases over the course of the novel, providing twists and exciting leaps of plot that kept me reading at a furious rate.
The characters were able to grant life and depth to the story, underlining the themes with their lifelike reactions to events. Buy Mitsui and Hack Nike were especially interesting characters for me because of the real conflict they both developed as they were exposed to the super-corporate world’s seedier side. Hack’s development from over-passive to over-assertive was nicely done.
This novel is masterfully crafted, a brilliant mix of thriller, Orwellian-like warning and parody. The satire was rich but not overpowering, eliciting chuckles between the brutal turns while the violent action was likewise well managed. This is a broadly appealing, deeply funny and sharply insightful pop novel, one certainly worth being caught up in.