Reader reviews for Girlfriend in a Coma

Has so much potential to be good, but just somehow doesn't work...
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A great book until she wakes up.
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This is definitely a book of two halves. On first reading I thoroughly enjoyed the first half concerning the adolescent love affair struck down in it’s infancy by the mysterious coma of Karen and the ensuing effects on those connected to her. The second half following her awakening and the clumsy apocalypse then ruined what had gone before.However, a second reading prompted by my girlfriend’s praise of the book led me to reconsider. I still feel that the two parts of the book are clumsily tied together but knowing what is coming allows more to be gained from the second half and the transition is not quite as grating.
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It's the late 1970s, and at a party, teenage Richard's girlfriend Karen (who is dieting for her upcoming Hawaiian vacation) takes a couple of valiums along with a weak cocktail. She slips into a persistent vegetative state (Karen Ann Quinlan, anyone? Even down to the name Karen). Richard and their group of friends, who were already scarred by the death of their friend Jared the year before, muddle into adulthood. One has a brilliant but short career as a supermodel, one becomes a physician, and several of them end up working in the film industry. Despite successes in life, they are really a bunch of losers lost in a fog of ennui. Until 17 years later, when Karen awakens from her coma. This is about half way into the novel, and suddenly there is a major change of direction as an apocalyptic illness breaks out and kills everyone on earth except this group. (This is not a spoiler as it is mentioned on the back cover blurb). The initial story of the apocalypse was very entertaining, but then the book sort of wanders off toward its end, with philosophical musings about the meaning and purpose of life. Oh, and the ghost of Jared returns to guide them.I really liked the first part, and then when it switched to a sci-fi novel I switched mindsets and liked that too. But then it just kinda . . . got weird and not very interesting. Not Coupland's best (I've seen him interviewed and he said he was in a really bad place when he wrote this one). Still, I'd rather read a "meh" Coupland than a lot of other stuff out there.As always though, Coupland is sharp with capturing cultural snap shots. He has an amazing ability to capture time and place (the 1970s teenage party spot on perfect--down to the Bob Seger music). This is one of his novels set in Vancouver, and he can write about the city with an accuracy that I haven't come across elsewhere.Recommended for: people who like books set in Vancouver, or books about the apocalypse. There are readers who just love this book, and probably just as many who hate it. If you haven't read Coupland before, don't start with this one.
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Sublime and eery apocalyptic tale of gen X'ers... Karen falls into a coma at age 17 in 1979. She wakes 17 years later to find her thirty something friends living hollow, yet efficient lives. She predicts the end of the world which comes, leaving she and her friends as the only remaining humans. A ghost of a high school friend leads them to the truth and sends them back into the world to bear witness. Coupland states that there is one absolute truth, but he never reveals what that truth is. The book is disjointed as it is divided into two parts and seemingly two novels, loosely tied together. This was my first Coupland read and I def. want to read more.
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This is a book that left me uncertain what I even think about it, which I think is a good thing. Yes, it's a novel in two parts--the first a sort of tragic teenage love story and the disintegration of a man who lives his life pretty much parallel to that of his girlfriend in a coma, while their daughter spirals into chaos. Then the girlfriend wakes up, and it becomes an apocalypse novel, narrated by the ghost of their high school friend and involving a lot of semi-preachy and sentimental moments about how humans in modern society have gone wrong, and how they might atone for it. Of course it wasn't believable, but nor was it meant to be. It has this sort of guerrilla-hope thing going on at the end that was interesting but not really aligned with the characters and the opening. I liked a lot about this book and suspect I'll keep thinking about it for some time.
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The first half of this book was a really interesting and well-written novella about loss, grief, and loneliness and the rippling impact of tragedy. I was even willing to suspend disbelief to allow the title character to (against all odds) wake from her coma after seventeen years. But then the book just went off the rails. The "apocolypse" was overly preachy, simplistic, and just silly. I can hardly express how disappointed I was with the final 100 pages or so. Without giving away too much plot, I'll say that the very end was rather touching, but didn't come close to making up for the utterly ridiculous sci-fi turn that the book took.
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This book lost me at the end, but the beginning was typical Coupland to me. Something about the end.
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Teenagers in 1979 are partying when one collapses into a vegetative coma. The titular character had, shortly before entering the coma, just had sex with her boyfriend. The book then goes into what happens in the friends' lives - both the non- and comatose. In fact, they are all in some kind of coma, going through life without *living* it. Without giving anything away, chapter one, along with a letter from the girl in the coma, tells you a great deal about what's going to happen in the book - there's a ghost, fate, reawakenings...Maybe it was the high expectations that let me down - I'd heard a lot about it, and had read [Microserfs] a few years ago and liked that well enough - but this one just left me cold and slightly annoyed. Then again, I tend not to like being beaten over the head with diatribes about how my generation is empty and lethargic and needs a wake up call. By the end, I felt it had turned into a preachy rant. Interesting idea, though.
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Boy meets girl and girl falls into a coma for 20 years. The first half, with its sly references to The Smiths and the X-files, is a masterpiece. I could do without the second half with its apocalyptic overtones.
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