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Girlfriend in a Coma: A Novel

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  15,603 Ratings  ·  686 Reviews
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 career ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 28, 2008 John rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-fiction
Here we go again.... what can I say? Other than I fear that this book was a complete and utter waste of my precious time.

Ok... the beginning was reasonable, but the ending... [oh Lord!]...the ending was not only extremely disapponting.... it also seemed to drag somewhat.

I am sure that there are many for whom this book is wonderful yet, for one, I cannot understand those plaudits nor the acclaim with which Douglas Coupland is held.

The story [Was there a story there at all? Really? Honestly?]...
Aug 01, 2007 Jojo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: crap
I would like the three hours I spent reading this back.
Mar 24, 2008 Joanna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-read
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, ...more
Feb 12, 2012 anaïs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually started this book two years ago while in New York City with my ex-boyfriend; oddly, it still smells like his apartment two years later. I read a third of it then when he was at work and it was too cold to venture outside and set it aside as things got busy and life got kind of serious for a while. I picked it up on Friday night with 200 pages to go and a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout in hand and settled in for some reading. I was done an hour and a half later. Now, I’m the cheapest d ...more
Aug 05, 2007 Brennan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Is it because Coupland also lived in Japan and Hawai'i, makes himself crazy extrapolating what our current patterns of consumption will mean environmentally, or so shrewdly id's, adores and impugns middle class suburban life and its children that make me love his writing? Dunno, but I do. I found the characters in this book fully realized, in some cases tremendously sensual, and in all cases talking about things that I am curious about. Their wistfulness is nearly visceral.

This book blew me awa
Nov 01, 2010 Oriana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
It seems very strange that I've never read Douglas Copeland before... Maybe I did but I forgot? Anyway, I got this at the Brokelyn Book Swap last month and I can't pick it up without the Smiths song digging into my head, which is fine now but will probably get really old really fast.


I unfortunately took like a two-week break from this book to read Bone, which is especially shitty because I was less than twenty pages from the end of Girlfriend in a Coma when I decided to do that. So n.b., boo
Mar 20, 2016 Sergey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
Пусть говорят, что книга о банальном: о том, что мы разучились общаться, зацикливаемся на нестоящих того вещах, эгоистичны, живем впустую. Но мы также живем, зачастую, эти банальности не замечая, не осмысляя их, совершая глупейшие ошибки, потому-то и стоит говорить о простых вещах. Запомнился роман замечательной динамикой, изменяющейся по ходу повествования, словно это не книга вовсе, а музыкальное произведение, которое длительное время развивается, томя и подготавливая слушателя, а потом вылива ...more
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!), th ...more
Paloma Meir
Aug 07, 2015 Paloma Meir rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Uggh, the book took forever to read. It would've been better to have read the story in 1997 as originally planned.

Douglas Coupland has a way with words, very clever. The plotting and characterization in this book does not live up to his phrasing. It can't be easy to write a book about nihilistic characters because their very nature is dull. He succeeded in some parts, and I wouldn't say failed, but something in that family, in other parts (Well, that was a messy sentence. Apologies).

I loved th
Thomas Strömquist
Karen, the girlfriend of the title, sinks into a coma in 1979 and awakes almost 20 years later. As she recovers, the world ends. For two thirds of the book, I thoroughly enjoyed Couplands quite unusual narrative (which frequently shifts narrator) and great characters (and of course, the numerous Smiths song titles scattered all over the text). The final third of the book really goes nowhere, the author and myself obviously have very different views of the 90's, and the ending feels to hurried (w ...more
Feb 06, 2008 Angie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jenna
Recommended to Angie by: Alicia
The title is a reference to a Smiths song and bits of lyrics are sprinkled throughout. This was probably my favorite aspect of the book because it gave me a little thrill whenever I discovered one. The story has a group of friends left at the end of the world to try and figure out what went wrong and how they can survive. I found myself sucked in, and I flew through it after the half-way point, but overall I was a little disappointed. It takes on a preachy tone towards the end that rubbed me the ...more
Feb 03, 2016 Patrick rated it liked it
I'm still trying to sort out how I feel about this book, and Douglas Coupland in general. I loved 'Life After God' when I first read it, 10 or so years ago, and I really, really, really wanted to love 'Hey, Nostradamus,' more recently. I want to go back to 'Life After God' and see how I feel about it now, but I'm scared. I'm scared because Coupland's books are full of bright-eyed, youthful ideas on the world, and I was absolutely that person 10 years ago. And it's not that I'm not that person an ...more
Jul 15, 2007 Brittany rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book started out with an intriguing premise: what would happen if a teenage girl fell into a coma, and then her boyfriend found out she was pregnant? If she was vegetative but steady, how would she affect the lives of her high school friends? It's well written, and everything's going along pretty well until BAM (spoiler) it turns into an apocalyptic "The Stand" type book right out of the blue. It might have been better had I known what to expect. That's a completely different kind of emotio ...more
Rhys Owen
What starts off as a moderately interesting book with a clever story and filled with pop culture references, the book delves into this annoying, dreary and deviating,rant(and I stress the word rant)about 'life' and 'it's meaning' and the ending is just bad, and just a huge bunch of annoying and forgettable characters who are depressed for no particular reason and seem depressed even when there is meant to be joy. An annoying book that does not provoke 'deeper thoughts' and 'questions about life' ...more
Feb 03, 2011 Jemma rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teenagers
First of all, sorry Kenny!

I really wanted to like this book, as I've wanted to read it for ages and when I was younger I used to LOVE Douglas Coupland, but it has become obvious now that some lovers should remain in the past. An example; around the same age as I was going through my Coupland phase, my favourite band were The Ataris. Their lyrics resounded with me. I tried listening to them again recently, and for the most part, I cringed.

What I didn't like about 'Girlfriend' was that the charact
May 07, 2012 Nina rated it liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Parts 1 and 2 of this book, but the last hundred pages or so felt like I was trapped in a bad post-apocalytic movie. It just dragged on and on. It felt like Coupland didn't really know how to give this book an ending. And there were some parts that just depressed me for some reason.

This being the first novel if his that I read, I would probably wait a month or so before diving into his other books. I was planning on reading Generation X right after this, but I don't
Adi Elkin
Sep 21, 2016 Adi Elkin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My reaction after finishing the book:

dafuq did i just read
Nate D
Sep 22, 2007 Nate D rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Coupland at his most heavy-handedly didactic and moralistic. Irritating in a manner surpassed only by the inanity of All Families Are Psychotic.
Not what I expected. A morality lesson. Blechhh.
Apr 14, 2015 Vanessa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-tbr
This book went somewhere I never expected it to go, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I started reading this book a few years ago, got around halfway through, and for some unknown reason never picked it up again until now. I was enjoying it at the time, so it's strange that I stopped reading, but I've finally got back to it now.

The story focuses around a group of friends and their lives growing up in a world that keeps progressing while they feel their lives are stagnant. On the 15th of Dec
Nov 30, 2009 May rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 15, 2011 Tiara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
"Girlfriend in a coma, I know, I know. It's really serious."

Liked this much better than Generation X. 17-year-old Karen goes into a 17-year-coma after having sex with her boyfriend. Talk about ways to scare you into not having sex. Well, she didn't go to sleep immediately afterwards, but she was really insistent on the two of them having sex. Before she slips into her coma, Karen tells her boyfriend, Richard, that she saw the future. Karen goes into a 17-year-coma, and wakes up to find her boyfr
Nancy Brady
2 stars actually, as this book is a bit confusing all the way through. A girl, Karen, has visions of the world's destruction (people falling asleep in death) that are so horrendous that she falls into a coma for seventeen years, only to awaken just prior to her vision coming true.

For her friends, her child, which she had nine months into her coma, and her family, these years are spent in change. For her, not so much.

The aftermath is chaos, but only they can change things and save the world and a
Carrie Ann
I suppose I was pretty much destined to not like this book very much. The message just doesn't do it for me, pretty much rings false, and induces a serious eyeroll. Maybe it would have been different ten years ago when the book came out. Maybe it would have been different if I was younger when I read it. But such as it is, I found it a pretty insipid book.

I'm never going to like a story that focuses on high school friends years after high school. There is just something terribly repulsive for m
Charlotte Dann
I was really enjoying the narrative in the beginning, but then it flipped into pseudo-philosophical, paranormal preaching which didn't feel inkeeping with the mood. Not what I was expecting, mixed feelings, here's a video to elaborate.
J.T. Wilson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 24, 2015 Lauren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephen Wozny
This book started out well enough. The premise was interesting, and I enjoyed the characters, but the whole thing went off the rails in part three. I'd be okay accepting the bonkers third act if only the payoff wasn't so disappointing. It plays out like a bad episode of Star Trek TNG, where the holodeck malfunctions and sends everyone into medieval times, embarrassingly goofy hi jinx ensueing.

For a book whose deus ex machina was for the characters to spend their lives asking blandly unspecific
May 07, 2016 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Depressing. Firstly, because the characters are all just 'existing', which is a big part of the premise, they're not trying to become better citizens, or give back, apart from perhaps Wendy.

Secondly, because everything that happens, happens for... what? So they're going to end up the wailing nut jobs we see on the street warning us of the end? Is that what will happen? How really does that help civilisation? Why is Jared such a pivotal part? Why are they chosen? Why does it all unfold this way?
Joy (joyous reads)
This prolific Canadian novelist is well known not only for his words but for his artistic ventures as well. I can't believe I've been ignoring his novels on my numerous trips to the bookstore. I'm glad I finally cave.

While this book didn't necessarily wow me, I've grown to like his style of writing. Girlfriend in a Coma started out as an un-put-downable read; the ending, though, got a little out of whack for me. And I don't know why I'm surprised to be honest, since the synopsis already hinted o
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Douglas Coupland is Canadian, born on a Canadian Air Force base near Baden-Baden, Germany, on December 30, 1961. In 1965 his family moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he continues to live and work. Coupland has studied art and design in Vancouver, Canada, Milan, Italy and Sapporo, Japan. His first novel, Generation X, was published in March of 1991. Since then he has published nine novels and sever ...more
More about Douglas Coupland...

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“I didn't realize then that so much of being adult is reconciling ourselves with the awkwardness and strangeness of our own feelings. Youth is the time of life lived for some imaginary audience” 82 likes
“there are three things we cry for in life: things that are lost, things that are found, and things that are magnificent.” 79 likes
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