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On a snowy Friday night in 1979, just hours after making love for the first time, Richard's girlfriend, high school senior Karen Ann McNeil, falls into a coma. Nine months later she gives birth to their daughter, Megan. As Karen sleeps through the next seventeen years, Richard and their circle of friends reside in an emotional purgatory, passing through a variety of careers—modeling, film special effects, medicine, demolition—before finally reuniting on a conspiracy-driven super-natural television series. But real life grows as surreal as their TV show as Richard and his friends await Karen's reawakening . . . and the subsequent apocalypse.

Topics: Dystopia, Canadian Author, 20th Century, Apocalypse, Love, Second Chances, Futuristic, Black Humor, Postmodern, Magical Realism, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and Vancouver

Published: HarperCollins on Jun 14, 2011
ISBN: 9780062105950
List price: $8.99
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Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland is about .... well .... a girl in a coma and the life her friends live as they are waiting for her to wake up. The book meanders quite a lot, and a good portion of time is spent describing the group of friends doing very little, yet is a fascinating story if only from the perspective of the girlfriend. She is in a coma for twenty years, and wakes up to feel that our world -- modern times -- is a dystopian, empty, meaningless society. The author does an excellent job of explaining why someone who went into a coma in 1979 would think that 1997 is dysfunctional, and it made me look at our society in a new way. Interesting perspective, and worth pondering.read more
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nice twist on the "it was all a dream!" plot.read more
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From what I've read, this seems to be the least popular of Coupland's novels. (Although Coupland fans are weird: among his devotees, there's the least amount of agreement about what constitutes a good Coupland book that I've ever seen.) I can definitely see why, although there were things I enjoyed about it. The problem, I think, is that it feels like several books mushed together: there's the Jared-the-ghost plot (similar but less effective than dead!Cheryl's narration in "Hey Nostradamus!"), the late '70s vs. '90s plot, the actual girlfriend-in-a-coma plot...and just when you're adjusting to all of that, there's the post-apocalyptic plot. It's too much, and it *really* fails to come together, not just logically (not something I'm looking for in a Coupland novel) but emotionally—and that *is* something at which he normally excels. So, yeah: it's a mess. Not a "I regret reading this" mess, but as all of the really good bits are pretty much replicated in his other works, it does feel kind of extraneous. I mean, Coupland's written something like ten novels and a bunch of non-fiction, so unless you're a completist (which I am) there's really no reason to read this particular book.read more
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Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland is about .... well .... a girl in a coma and the life her friends live as they are waiting for her to wake up. The book meanders quite a lot, and a good portion of time is spent describing the group of friends doing very little, yet is a fascinating story if only from the perspective of the girlfriend. She is in a coma for twenty years, and wakes up to feel that our world -- modern times -- is a dystopian, empty, meaningless society. The author does an excellent job of explaining why someone who went into a coma in 1979 would think that 1997 is dysfunctional, and it made me look at our society in a new way. Interesting perspective, and worth pondering.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
nice twist on the "it was all a dream!" plot.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
From what I've read, this seems to be the least popular of Coupland's novels. (Although Coupland fans are weird: among his devotees, there's the least amount of agreement about what constitutes a good Coupland book that I've ever seen.) I can definitely see why, although there were things I enjoyed about it. The problem, I think, is that it feels like several books mushed together: there's the Jared-the-ghost plot (similar but less effective than dead!Cheryl's narration in "Hey Nostradamus!"), the late '70s vs. '90s plot, the actual girlfriend-in-a-coma plot...and just when you're adjusting to all of that, there's the post-apocalyptic plot. It's too much, and it *really* fails to come together, not just logically (not something I'm looking for in a Coupland novel) but emotionally—and that *is* something at which he normally excels. So, yeah: it's a mess. Not a "I regret reading this" mess, but as all of the really good bits are pretty much replicated in his other works, it does feel kind of extraneous. I mean, Coupland's written something like ten novels and a bunch of non-fiction, so unless you're a completist (which I am) there's really no reason to read this particular book.
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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 little confusing for me. I read it last year so already my memory is a little fuzzy...
I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a Young Adult book. If it's a kids book I guess you have to cut it a little slack, but it just wasn't that good. I was never sure when I was reading it if it was actually written for adults. I guess that tells you a lot about what I thought of it.

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The thing I love about Coupland’s books is that I I always feel they connect to all of the other things I am reading (yes all the spiritual christian stuff), because the way he writes integrates a lot of it. This book is no different.The premise of the book is there are a group of teenagers being teenagers and amongst all the hoopla one night one of their friends goes into a drug induced coma. It is then determined that this girl (named Karen) has been in someway interacting with some 4th dimension (my words not Coupland’s) and has seen things that she was or wasn’t supposed to see. Either way she goes into a coma for 17 years while her friends grow up in age (years), but really never in maturity. When she awakes the world appears bizarre to her with all the new technological developments yet no real positive progress and as she wrestles with being a 17 year old in 34 year old body (yet not actually being any less mature than her friends in many ways).At this point I am not going to spoil the book (but I kind of do later), because the twists are well done and bizarre too, but personally I appreciate Coupland’s movement in this area (as I always have) and believe the jumps the book makes are not that bizarre. I digress, but should say that there are a lot of holistic items I gained from the book that as Christians we should read and find appreciation for. The later stages of the book begin to bring some of the 4th dimension to light and as the characters interact with this dimension you begin to see and feel the realization that narcissism really engulfs the entire culture.I am not sure if Coupland was trying to reveal a sense of the narcissistic culture (based in Vancouver no less) through this book, but my greatest appreciation of the book was how after the [spoiler] “disaster,” the characters are now sent to re-enter the world with a sense of truth to the way they have acted (and how they have treated the world) and to bring about its best, and put others first in all that they do. They were given a glimpse into the truth and then sent back into their world to spread this truth throughout.I feel that as a Christian, Jesus has given us a glimpse of how heaven is to be on earth and we can choose to sit idly by, or act on that truth that we know. Girlfriend in a Coma gives a glimpse of a present day idleness and then gives hope to the reader (through the characters) that we can choose to live (love) differently.I wonder how aware we are of our own narcissistic behaviours and how much we sit idly by when we know there is more to life than this… specifically presently! Jesus prayer was “Your Kingdom (reality) come, on earth as it is in Heaven.” How much of my life is bringing Heaven to Earth.
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