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Girlfriend in a Coma
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Girlfriend in a Coma

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  13,137 ratings  ·  607 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
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 1st 1999 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 1998)
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This is the end...
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Best Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
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Community Reviews

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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 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: crap
I would like the three hours I spent reading this back.
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
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
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
Feb 06, 2008 Angie rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I definitely look down on Douglas Coupland. He says he's not CanLit, and that's true. For all its flaws and unreasonable glitz, the CanLit establishment has high standards for prose and evocation. I just got done reading [i:]Girlfriend in a Coma[/i:], and it's just not the work of a particularly good writer. The problems are fundamental, not specific to this work. I completley buy that things like [i:]Microserfs[/i:] and [i:]jPod[/i:] are probably better than this. I buy that because I gather th ...more
Feb 03, 2011 Jemma rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
"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
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
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
Danielle Lundberg
Not what I expected. A morality lesson. Blechhh.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mikael Kuoppala
Douglas Coupland can write about teenagers and young adults in a way that makes the characters' immaturity seem a dramatic resourse instead of something that would annoy. That's quite an achievement, and "Girlfriend in a Coma" is a good example of his talent. It follows a group of friends from the 70's to the end of the 90's and shows how they grow from teenagers to seasoned adults.

In the center of the story is Richard, a sympathetic "loser" character who's a typical example of a Coupland antihe
Jeremy Zerbe
After finishing Coupland's apparent masterwork, Microserfs, which I adored and reviewed here a few weeks ago, I immediately hit the bookstore again in search of the other book of his that I'd been kicking around buying for awhile as well: Girlfriend in a Coma.

Unlike Microserfs, the plotline of this 1998 release is not such a simple one. It's set in and around Vancouver, Coupland's home, and has to do with the end of the world mostly. And, like the first book I read of his, Hey Nostradamus!, it b
You know, sometimes there are books that make you happy, of course, then there are books that make you sad, yeah, but sometimes there is this one book that acts as a total singularity in everything you have experienced as a reader. This is one of them, and not really in a good way.

I am a big fan of Coupland, I know his weird weird fans and I myself kinda began to overlook some of his weird choices in storytelling. But before I say something bad about the book, let's first say something positive.
Jan 26, 2010 Brittany rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Coupland fans, people who grew up in the 80s/90s
Recommended to Brittany by: Sarah
How I Came To Read This Book: It’s one of my friend Sarah’s favourite books.

The Plot: Karen and Richard are teens in 1974 when they sleep together for the first time. Afterwards, Karen confides in Richard that she’s been having dark, mysterious visions – and shortly after that, she slips into a coma. Nine months later, a baby girl named Meagan pops out (Karen’s child by Richard) but Karen is still comatose. The next seventeen years go by with details on the fate of each person in Karen/Richard’s
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
In many ways this is an atypical Coupland novel. The witty banter and the constant references to popular culture are there and the lost lonely people buffeted by consumer capitalism are there. But there is a different tone to this book, a melancholy attitude that pervades this narrative. It is a sad tale that is redeemed in the end. The story could have been humorous. I can imagine a Coupland book about a woman who falls into a coma at 17 and does not wake up until 32 being a non-stop clash betw ...more
Круто. Начавшись с рассказа о жизни подростков конца 1970-х, книга развернулась в эпичную драму с элементами постапокалипсиса. "Пока подружка в коме" пребывала 17 лет, мир менялся, причём скорее всего не в лучшую сторону. Он стал рациональнее, технологичнее, но потерял душу, свободное время и человечность. Когда же Карен очнулась от сна, началось самое интересное. Спойлерить не хочется, поэтому далее сюжет пересказывать не буду. С финалом, мне кажется, Коупленд перегнул. Какая-то неимоверная кон ...more
Benjamin Rotskoff
Who would have thought the end of the human race would be so boring?

Though it reads like a proper Douglas Coupland, it gets bogged down in a bleak post-apocalyptic landscape that doesn't do much of anything but depress the reader. I can't help but think that the book would have been better if the bulk of it had been set during the collapse rather than in the vacant-world aftermath. I'm a Gen-Xer all the way and so I can understand the pessimism that permeates a lot of '90s and '00s fiction. You
Jun 09, 2007 Samantha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anoretics, bastards
this book was my sister's. she liked douglas coupland, and because she was so much older and wise than i, i followed her instruction. i remember i staked myself out in the family dining room, surrounded by fragile glass and crystal that only my mom knew the origins of. the supple nature of the room matched the frail character, the girl, who falls into a myserious coma...for like, twenty years or whatever. coupland stresses her diet and tendency to gobble speed so that she may achieve maximum tal ...more
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The Ultimate Teen...: Girlfriend in a Coma - Douglas Coupland 1 11 Apr 01, 2013 11:41AM  
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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...
Microserfs Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture JPod Hey Nostradamus! All Families are Psychotic

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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” 73 likes
“there are three things we cry for in life: things that are lost, things that are found, and things that are magnificent.” 70 likes
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