Australian author Max Barry’s Jennifer Government (Doubleday, 2003) was a Booklist Editor’s Choice for Young Adults and a School Library Journal Adult Books for Young Adults best of the year pick. In case you missed it, it is a satirical novel about a world where corporations rule, and a fall guy contracted to assassinate customers wearing $2500 tennis shoes as part of a marketing campaign. (It made the shoes a hot commodity!)
His latest, Machine Man, was originally an online serial novel.
Barry’s novels are popular with Hollywood. His debut, 1999′s Syrup, is currently filming (the author even gets a cameo) and Machine Man has been picked up as well. Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) will direct. Barry is pretty excited about that. (Obviously, I had way too much fun reading Max Barry’s smart and charming website while preparing this post. If you have a few minutes, I recommend it.)
Adult/High School–Charlie Neumann, an engineer at the Better Future corporation, loses a leg in an industrial accident –but that’s the good news. He gets a state-of-the-art prosthetic leg, but he can’t help tweaking it to make it even better. He likes everything it can do and soon finds his remaining biological leg offensive. This starts him on the road to self-improvement of the most technological kind. Charlie’s employer sees a big market in his inventions. Suddenly he has unlimited funding and access to all the technical resources he needs. His lab assistants are excited by the charge to make better human parts and begin churning out more and more improvements. But how far can this go? Teens will be drawn into this book from the very beginning. Charlie’s obsessive search for his lost cell phone and his inability to focus on anything until he finds it leads to the accident that puts the story in motion. Charlie’s assistants, all young adults themselves, will appeal to teens with their attitudes and the many creative ways they find to amuse themselves in the lab. Fans of science fiction are a natural audience, but Machine Man will also appeal to teens who enjoy a slightly cynical, surprisingly funny look at our relationship with technology and what happens when scientific advancement gets tangled up with corporate profit motives.–Carla Riemer, Berkeley High School, CA