Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland: Review

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Okay, so Karen MacNeil didn’t die but she did end up in a coma.

In 1979, after she and her boyfriend, Richard, did it for the first time in the snow on a mountain, she goes to a party, has some Valium and lapses into a coma for 17 years. The cause wasn’t the sex or the drugs but from a glimpse of the future. It was too much, so she went to sleep. When she wakes, she finds that she has a 17 year old daughter and that all her friends are languishing in a perpetual teenhood with no ambitions and no values. Their lives are empty but they fill them with drugs, loveless marriages, and work. Karen knows something big is coming. It’s the end of the world as they know it but everyone is far from fine.

When I started reading Girlfriend in a Coma, I was completely annoyed with Karen and her friends. They are suburban kids with too much time on their hands and too little supervision. They were as irritating as hell and they didn’t improve any as adults. That’s sort of the point of the story though so I got over it. Parts 1 and 2 were interesting. Imagine waking up from a 17 year coma, what would that be like? Unfortunately, most of the story is told from the point of view of the other characters. Reasonable, since it’s during the 17 year gap that Karen was asleep, but I would have liked more from her side.

Part 3 is where things got weird. The message in that section of the book is like a very special episode of Blossom, heavy-handed and guilt inducing. The vehicle of this message is odd. If you’ve read it, you’ll know what I mean.

I enjoyed Coupland’s writing but the dialogue bothered me. It didn’t seem natural and it threw me out of the story. Perhaps it’s because these people have such artificial lives? Maybe. I’ll have to read more Coupland to find out if this is the case or just a quirk of his writing.

This is review is spilt between me liking it and not liking it. I still don’t know how I feel about it. It made me think, but the message is overkill. It’s not a hard to read book though, so it has that going for it.

Sidenote: Girlfriend in a Coma is going to be a sitcom on NBC. I can’t wrap my brain around how that is going to work but whatever.

14 comments:

  1. Her first time was in the snow?!? Brrr.

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  2. A sitcom? Is it... funny? Because it didn't really sound that funny.

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    1. No, it isn't, which is why I can't understand how it's going to work.

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  3. Interesting premise, but I'm not sure I buy that all her friends are still so shallow. Maybe he's able to pull it off, but I don't know many people who were anything like their high school selves 17 years later.

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    1. No, I don't think I'm like my 17 year old self now. There is a comment by one of the characters that our personalities are formed by the time we are adults. I don't agree either.

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  4. A sitcom?! Having trouble imagining that too. I usually like Coupland a lot but I just couldn't get along with this book.

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    1. I still really want to read Generation X, since I am one.

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  5. May not be for me - that glimpse of the future stuff would bother me.

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  6. A very special episode of Blossom...omg. That made me laugh my fool head off, lol.

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  7. I've never seen Blossom, so I have no idea what you meant by that! But, I do recall that I actually enjoyed Girlfriend in a Coma because I thought it was rather oddly spiritual. It's possible that I didn't get it at all.

    A sitcom? What? How? I don't get it, either.

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    1. Oh, ha, whenever a Blossom episode was going to have some important message they would advertise it as a 'very special episode.' You probably got it better than I did. It was too much for me.

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