Max Barry’s third novel is Company. I am biased because he is one of my favorites, but he again puts together a great book. In Syrup, Barry took on marketing firms, in Jennifer Government he took on capitalism and in Company he satirizes big corporations and white-collar life. The main character in this book is Jones, a typical Barry lead character who is fairly clueless, but cool anyway. Jones is a new employee with Zephyr, a huge company that seems not to have an actual product. Amid downsizing, corporate politics and a missing donut Jones starts to figure out Zephyr’s secret. While not even remotely realistic, Barry takes what everyone knows of corporate culture and twists everything around a little bit. This is really a combination of some of the elements from his first two books and is a good complement to them both.
I am reading through the Printz Award winners for 2006. One of the Honor Books in fiction (Black Juice stinks don’t waste your time) is I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. This is a great read. Ed Kennedy is a 19-year old burnout, taxi cab driver and owner of an old smelly dog named the Doorman. His mostly boring life of driving taxi and playing cards with his three friends is interrupted by playing cards that keeps showing up at his home. On these cards are cryptic instructions which he must interpret, so he can find people he needs to help and figure out what they need in their lives. If he fails there are some unspecified consequences and as he progresses through the cards, some mysterious thugs are making life rough for him anyway. Ed is a great funny character and this is an edgy read where Zusak does not allow Ed an easy time of things, though the ending was a bit too predictable. This book is highly recommended.