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Girlfriend in a Coma

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  18,380 ratings  ·  832 reviews
Girls, memory, parenting, millennial fear -- all served Coupland-style. Karen, an attractive, popular student, goes into a coma one night in 1979. Whilst in it, she gives birth to a healthy baby daughter; once out of it, a mere eighteen years later, she finds herself, Rip van Winkle-like, a middle-aged mother whose friends have all gone through all the normal marital, soci ...more
Paperback, 281 pages
Published 2004 by Harper Perrenial (first published January 1st 1998)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
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 ·  18,380 ratings  ·  832 reviews

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Petra-X Off having adventures
This short novel was based on the usual dystopian world picture: everyone is dead and at least until the few good survivors can get their act together and "go back to the land" they scavenge. The differences were that it starts with the pregnant girlfriend of a teenage boy, both part of a very sociable crowd of kids, falling into a coma.

17 years later she awakens (with a 16 year old daughter!) and her friends have all grown up but not necessarily as their best selves and everyone else in the wo
Steven Godin

Under normal circumstances this is a novel I should have absolutely hated. But, for whatever reason, it just worked for me. Lately, I'd been getting rather bored of reading the same old stuff and felt like trying something completely different; and oh boy was this different. It didn't start off too well though, as reading the first few pages: we get the voice of a dead babe magnet football player, I was starting to wonder just what the hell I was letting myself in for. Thankfully, once it settle
May 02, 2008 rated it did not like it
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?]...
Mar 22, 2008 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
Jul 31, 2007 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.
Feb 10, 2012 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 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
Mél ☽
These two stars are given only because of the nice and catchy beginning of the book.

The rest just had me like "Why am I even reading this?"
Jen from Quebec :0)
I REALLY loved this book, and it went to many different places than expected. It was a combination of genres, and despite being written in 1997 or so, FELT very immediate. I have a lot more to say, but I am currently listening to an audiobook on my headphones and find it hard to write whilst listening to a different book at the same time! (Yes...I might have a 'problem' when it comes to my voracious reading...) --Jen from Quebec :0) ...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
Oct 14, 2010 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
Adi Elkin
Sep 21, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My reaction after finishing the book:

dafuq did i just read
Paloma Meir
Apr 20, 2015 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 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
Sep 15, 2011 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
May 21, 2007 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
Nate D
Sep 22, 2007 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.
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
Jan 11, 2011 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
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
Kara Babcock
Aug 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-author, own
Douglas Coupland has the ability to always write about the same thing, yet always end up with something different. As a writer, he is able to talk about life by coming at it sideways through larger-than-life characters in insane situations.

Coupland sets much of the story during the end of the world, but it's not about the end of the world so much as it's about the characters. His impressive voice allows you to immerse yourself and get to know each of the characters. They are all round, three dim
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am very selfishly awarding this book 5 stars not because I think that everyone should read or because I even think it's objectively that good, but because I liked it. Yeah, that's right. This is about me. No one else. Me.

I make this distinction because I can very well see why people might not like this book. It takes place in North Vancouver (a place that I have spent considerable time in) and is rife with regional, niche references that only a seasoned Vancouverite would gush over or find cha
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: september-2017
Girlfriend in a Coma was my first taste of Canadian author Douglas Coupland's work, and I must admit that I selected it just for its title, being a huge fan of The Smiths. It sounded fascinating, and I was quite intrigued by the first chapter, which was narrated by a 'ghost' named Jared. The following initial section of the book is told by Richard, a character whom I did not find particularly interesting; the story which he relates, however, does have quite a lot of depth to it.

Whilst the concep
May 04, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not what I expected. A morality lesson. Blechhh.
Nov 30, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 03, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
2018 view: Hmmm. This book gets an R.... as in arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh what, why, how did I read this! R for Really great book title and initial concept of an aimless, middle-class, teenage friend group coping first with a death from Leukemia and then later another from the group falling into a vegetative state... you know, a coma. R is also for the Redundant latter stages of this book which somehow meandered into a post apocalyptic quasi-ghost (I kid you not!) story with insight into how mankind's beh ...more
Nancy Brady
2½ 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
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I am 27 Years old and need a girlfriend 1 6 May 22, 2019 03:03AM  
Second Half of th...: Girlfriend in a Coma - Spoilers Welcome 2 6 May 13, 2016 04:43AM  
Ending vs Beginning 4 49 Feb 25, 2014 02:59PM  
oooo 1 45 Apr 10, 2008 10:55AM  

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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

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