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Girlfriend in a Coma: A Novel Paperback – November 11, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (November 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006162425X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061624254
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #941,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this latest novel from the poet laureate of Gen X--who is himself now a dangerously mature 36--boy does indeed meet girl. The year is 1979, and the lovers get right down to business in a very Couplandian bit of plein air intercourse: "Karen and I deflowered each other atop Grouse Mountain, among the cedars beside a ski slope, atop crystal snow shards beneath penlight stars. It was a December night so cold and clear that the air felt like the air of the Moon--lung-burning; mentholated and pure; hint of ozone, zinc, ski wax, and Karen's strawberry shampoo." Are we in for an archetypal '80s romance, played out against a pop-cultural backdrop? Nope. Only hours after losing her virginity, Karen loses consciousness as well--for almost two decades. The narrator and his circle soldier on, making the slow progression from debauched Vancouver youths to semiresponsible adults. Several end up working on a television series that bears a suspicious resemblance to The X-Files (surely a self-referential wink on the author's part). And then ... Karen wakes up. Her astonishment--which suggests a 20th-century, substance-abusing Rip Van Winkle--dominates the second half of the novel, and gives Coupland free reign to muse about time, identity, and the meaning (if any) of the impending millennium. Alas, he also slaps a concluding apocalypse onto the novel. As sleeping sickness overwhelms the populace, the world ends with neither a bang nor a whimper, but a universal yawn--which doesn't, fortunately, outweigh the sweetness, oddity, and ironic smarts of everything that has preceded it. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A high school senior makes love on a ski slope, then mixes drinks and drugs at a wild party and falls into a 17-year coma. She wakes up to find she has a daughter, delivered nine months into her coma. Her friends all seem diminished by the passage of time. Her boyfriend laments, "What evidence have we ever given of inner lives?" Not long after, a plague kills off everyone on Earth but her friends. Even more bizarre happenings follow, leading to an unconvincing denouement. For the most part, however, Coupland (Generation X, LJ 10/1/91) has crafted a moving chronicle of the impoverished inner lives of a circle of materially rich young adults of the Nineties. Using punchy sentences filled with hip names and brand labels, he succeeds in capturing the weak sense of identity exhibited by a generation that has defined itself in terms of what it consumes and not what it could achieve.?David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

This is an easy reading book.
vmoy@hotmail.com
I really wanted to like this book, but it just spirals out of control near the end.
This Guy
Not that there isn't much to think about, I just think the ending is a little weak.
Tanja L. Walker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A VINE VOICE on August 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
A woman comes out of a coma after almost 20 years to discover that the world has changed for the worse and her friends have barely changed. All the newest inventions have left people with less and less time and made everyone shallower and shallower. She predicts that, 3 days after Christmas, the end of the world will come and only herself and her slacker friends will be left. The question is, can they learn from being the only people left in the world or will they continue to be slackers. I have never been swept into a book in such a way; I found my dreams getting tangled up in this book at night. But it's fitting, since it seems that much of the book takes place in the realm of dreams. I love the mandate given to the characters at the end of the book to go out and ask questions and make people think. Without asking questions about how we got to where we are, the purpose of it all, and where we are going, the world stagnates. The author touches on my own feeling that technology is actually causing many people to stagnate. You can tell this if you've ever been in an internet chat room and have tried to procure any intellectual conversation from anyone. Great book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By This Guy on September 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
I really, really wanted to like this book...and it came so close to winning me over. Unfortuantely, the last quarter of the book falls apart so quickly and so badly, that it ruins whatever good experience I had with the first three quarters.

The story is really interesting, and a quick read, throughout most of the book. Then, once the Supernatural Twist occurs, it just goes downhill. From there, Coupland spends FOREVER getting to the end, and he just rambles for several chapters until he gets to the letdown that is the ending. That letdown could've come about five chapters earlier, too, since one of the characters actually warns of it...again and again and again. "I've got something to tell these people", is what he essentially says, then spends five chapters getting around to saying it.

...And, when this "bombshell" is dropped, it's boring. Plenty of people on this site have given the ending away, so I won't do that. Suffice to say, it's simplistic, it's preachy, and it isn't remotely groundbreaking. In fact, it isn't even interesting. It's just pretentious, which is a shame because so much of the book was so interesting.

I really wanted to like this book, but it just spirals out of control near the end. It seemed thrown together, and ruined a book that would've easily gotten three or four stars from me had it not lost itself in the final act.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jose Jones on January 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
Having now read "Life After God," "Microserfs" and "Girlfriend in a Coma" back-to-back-to-back, it's obvious that Coupland had a mortal terror of the emptiness and faithlessness of the '90s culture. This is the scariest, creepiest and oddest display of that fear.

The novel starts off in the late '70s when 17-year-old Karen loses her virginity on a skiing trip to boyfriend Richard and soon falls into a coma. Richard already lost one young friend to cancer (a jock named Jared, who acts as our narrator in the beginning and end of the book) and his girlfriend's tragic disappearing act is something he never truly gets over. The first section of the book shows us Richard and his friends -- sarcastic Hamilton, model Pam, lonely Wendy, smart but aloof Linus -- numbly trek into adulthood. They battle addictions, they question life, they marry -- and they all end up back in their old Canadian neighborhood.

Karen awakes two decades later to a world she finds disturbing -- empty, mindless worker drones simply existing. No free time, no fun, no leisure. While technology has grown stronger, she feels like the world has become emotionally cold and disconnected.

The frail, emaciated Karen reenters the life of her friends -- she gets to meet her daughter for the first time (she was impregnated by Richard on that night) -- and she also has visions of a coming apocalypse.

The apocalypse eventually arrives. The world "goes to sleep" -- people around the world simply pass out and die wherever they are. The aftermath is a world gone quiet. Streets filled with rotting corpses. Animals running wild in the street. The stink of death everywhere. Coupland has never been better than when he describes the horror of this plague.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By phrreek@aol.com on April 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
Since 'Gen X' and then 'MicroSerfs' I've waited for another Douglas Coupland novel to grab me and slap me with a little optimism for my times, for my generation. As we approach the millenial turnover to 2000, Girlfriend in a Coma presents a fresh perspective in which to embrace a not so bright future for us humans. Coupland conveys a yearning for the next evolutionary step for humans, to open our eyes and take notice that our culture, technology and society at large are taking us someplace utterly meaningless. These are the things that Girlfriend in a Coma made me think about. Coupland's writing style is at it's best, taking me to a place that I could totally visualize and see myself participate as if it were my own girlfriend in a coma. The unique narrative perspectives of the Dead Football Star Jared and then Richard as well as Richards daughter Megan roll us around in a captivating plot that sends us over to a surrealistic armegeddon filled with pharmacy pillages and crunchy leakers everywhere(what a riot!), and then on to a conclusion that demands an introspection, a reevaluation of our own attempts at providing our lives with meaning with the space and time alotted to us by our maker. A profound subject painted by a master of our generation.
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