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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
ISBN: 9780062105950
List price: $10.99
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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.

more
This is definitely one of the books that changed my life...I've read everything that Douglas Coupland has written and this one is by far my favorite. I'm hesitant to talk of it because i don't want it to sound cheesy but it's alot about second chances, the despair in choices we all make, and the ultimate hope for the ability of human beings to change and actually live a life.more
I really did want to enjoy this but honestly, I thought it was a load of nonsense. It started out okay because I figured it was just building up to something bigger. It just continued to drag on, though. I then thought that it would get more interesting once Karen woke up, but it just went even further down hill. The last one hundred pages were honestly tortureous and it was a huge struggle to read them. It was just a load of silly rambling that was supposed to be 'meaningful' or something. Two stars for the idea, but it was poorly executed in my opinion.more
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.more
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.more
I found the teenage Karen's premonitions and her view of the late 1990s world that she woke up to, thought provoking. She feels that her friends have stagnated while she was in a coma and have lost something of themselves over the years, and they don't seem as adult as she would have expected.It was an enjoyable book, but frankly I found the 'post-end of the world' section a bit of a let-down, even though I'm not averse to a bit of fantasy.Jared's comment about the group wasting their time was obviously true, as they had spent a year in watching videos and playing computer games, but in my opinion they should have been planting crops and learning to be self-sufficient, not obsessing about the past.However, as I went to Western Canada on holiday last year, I did like the Vancouver setting.more
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.more
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.more
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.more
A great book until she wakes up.more
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.more
Too unanswered questions at the end for my liking, but an enjoyable reading nonetheless.more
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.more
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.more
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.more
Has so much potential to be good, but just somehow doesn't work...more
This is the book that did it for me - that made we want to not read Coupland anymore. I'd loved "Generation X" and "Microserfs" - both of which felt so compellingly powerful and true. Now they feel cheaper because "Girlfriend" is so much in awe of them.It's a silly story, a kind of moral fantasy, and it makes the reader work to hard to sympathise with its broken-soul characters. It was tiring; even the fantastical, when everyone falls down and sleeps and dies, save for a select few; once the initial shock and excitement is gone, all that remains is the rest of the book to slog through, to a sub-"Angel" ending.more
As ever a few great gags, some fancy word invention and a great title but ultimately empty empty emptymore
nice twist on the "it was all a dream!" plot.more
For me reading this was like listening to an old friend talk about our high school days, but with perfect recall. I was in school in the same area and time as this book's setting, and it is wonderfully nostalgic for me. I loved it.more
James Patterson is always a good read.Basically, a serial killer is hitting celebrities in Los Angeles; Dr. Alex Cross represents the FBI and assists the LAPD in solving this case.Patterson takes you from two points of view: the killer's and Dr. Cross smoothly and without confusion. Thinking back, three-quarter ways through, hints were dropped as to the killer's identity but you didn't realize it until the end. Or at least, I didn't. LOLHad a nice, neat, well-written ending, not disappointed.more
This book lost me at the end, but the beginning was typical Coupland to me. Something about the end.more
Read all 24 reviews

Reviews

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.

more
This is definitely one of the books that changed my life...I've read everything that Douglas Coupland has written and this one is by far my favorite. I'm hesitant to talk of it because i don't want it to sound cheesy but it's alot about second chances, the despair in choices we all make, and the ultimate hope for the ability of human beings to change and actually live a life.more
I really did want to enjoy this but honestly, I thought it was a load of nonsense. It started out okay because I figured it was just building up to something bigger. It just continued to drag on, though. I then thought that it would get more interesting once Karen woke up, but it just went even further down hill. The last one hundred pages were honestly tortureous and it was a huge struggle to read them. It was just a load of silly rambling that was supposed to be 'meaningful' or something. Two stars for the idea, but it was poorly executed in my opinion.more
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.more
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.more
I found the teenage Karen's premonitions and her view of the late 1990s world that she woke up to, thought provoking. She feels that her friends have stagnated while she was in a coma and have lost something of themselves over the years, and they don't seem as adult as she would have expected.It was an enjoyable book, but frankly I found the 'post-end of the world' section a bit of a let-down, even though I'm not averse to a bit of fantasy.Jared's comment about the group wasting their time was obviously true, as they had spent a year in watching videos and playing computer games, but in my opinion they should have been planting crops and learning to be self-sufficient, not obsessing about the past.However, as I went to Western Canada on holiday last year, I did like the Vancouver setting.more
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.more
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.more
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.more
A great book until she wakes up.more
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.more
Too unanswered questions at the end for my liking, but an enjoyable reading nonetheless.more
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.more
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.more
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.more
Has so much potential to be good, but just somehow doesn't work...more
This is the book that did it for me - that made we want to not read Coupland anymore. I'd loved "Generation X" and "Microserfs" - both of which felt so compellingly powerful and true. Now they feel cheaper because "Girlfriend" is so much in awe of them.It's a silly story, a kind of moral fantasy, and it makes the reader work to hard to sympathise with its broken-soul characters. It was tiring; even the fantastical, when everyone falls down and sleeps and dies, save for a select few; once the initial shock and excitement is gone, all that remains is the rest of the book to slog through, to a sub-"Angel" ending.more
As ever a few great gags, some fancy word invention and a great title but ultimately empty empty emptymore
nice twist on the "it was all a dream!" plot.more
For me reading this was like listening to an old friend talk about our high school days, but with perfect recall. I was in school in the same area and time as this book's setting, and it is wonderfully nostalgic for me. I loved it.more
James Patterson is always a good read.Basically, a serial killer is hitting celebrities in Los Angeles; Dr. Alex Cross represents the FBI and assists the LAPD in solving this case.Patterson takes you from two points of view: the killer's and Dr. Cross smoothly and without confusion. Thinking back, three-quarter ways through, hints were dropped as to the killer's identity but you didn't realize it until the end. Or at least, I didn't. LOLHad a nice, neat, well-written ending, not disappointed.more
This book lost me at the end, but the beginning was typical Coupland to me. Something about the end.more
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