This is an archived article from my now-defunct NeonReviews website. Any qualities and/or information provided about the reviewed item must be seen in context of when it was originally published.
Author: Max Barry
Availability: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk
Related links: Official website, NationStates
We’re off to an exciting action adventure, seeing the story from all sides. The government agent, the innocent bystander, the evil contractor, the poor guy that got in the way, and that poor guy’s girlfriend. Even though there are a few characters to relate to, and you’re introduced and will be a part of each character’s stand in the “game”.
Hack first heard about Jennifer Government at the water cooler. He was only there because the one on his floor was out; Legal was going to come down on Nature’s Springs like a ton of shit, you could bet on that. Hack was a Merchandise Distribution Officer. This meant when Nike made up a bunch of posters, or caps, or beach towels, Hack had to send them to the right place. Also, if someone called up complaining about missing posters, or caps, or beach towels, Hack had to take the call. It wasn’t as exciting as it used to be.
This is how it all begins. Hack has been hoping for a little more cash, and one of the guys at the water cooler is about to give him an offer he can’t refuse. We’re in a futuristic world where marketing and commercialism is the drive of the American society. And in this society, people show their loyalty by taking their employer’s company name as their last name. The United States of America now includes the Australian territory, and murder is still illegal. Someone at Nike wants Hack to kill a random customer over one of their shoe brands to market the exclusiveness of the shoe. He doesn’t want to do it, but he needs the money the job will pay. He outsources the job to someone else, the job is done, and now the government is on the case. More specifically, Jennifer Government, the most feared government agent of them all.
The view is changed between chapters, and I sometimes had to go back a page or two to catch all of the story, but I truly enjoyed this book. Every step of the way, I could imagine exactly how a movie based on this book would look like, and it looked good. It was much more action than I expected, including a little required romance (I won’t say who), but not enough futurism as I hoped for; the technology appeared to be much like what it is today, the major changes were mostly in the ways people think. Once I managed to keep up with the story, the subject interested me more and more. What if the existing society is in great danger? How will our children think? Will big-time companies have such a great say in how the society is run? Even though Max Barry had me convinced about one of the ways our world might turn out, I surely hope this will not be the way we’ll live our lives in the future.
I just hope George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh’s production company, Section Eight Films, don’t screw too much up with the experience in the upcoming movie based on the book. (Yes, they bought the movie rights.)
Thank you, Max Barry.