Steev Hise's Reviews > Generation A

Generation A by Douglas Coupland
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really liked it
bookshelves: novels, fun

This is a good book. It's a gripping story of epic, global scope. It's also at times silly and funny and zany and quirky. It's interesting how much its format resembles that of the book Coupland wrote next, "Player One" - they both feature a handful of characters who are sort of thrown together through no fault of their own, in an apocalyptic end-time sort of situation, and the first-person story switches rapidly but unambiguously (with sections named after each character whenever a switch happens) between them. Some of the same factoids and concepts appear in both books as well.

This makes me wonder if Coupland is in a rut, or maybe just trying to work through some stuff and not really satisfied with how he's done it already. At any rate, neither book is as good as his first, Generation X, in my opinion. However, I might just think that because I was 23 and more impressionable when I read that one. But I really think Generation X captured the zeitgeist in a clearer, more profound way than anything Generation A does. Generation A is more of a science fiction adventure about what might happen, at least metaphorically, and as such it's valuable. But it's not a brilliant illumination of the now the way Generation X was.

Still, it was good, certainly good enough for me to reach back one more book of his and read JPod.

One final note: It's interesting that in the interview at the end of the book, Coupland claims that he had no problem switching between "drastically different personalities" (the interviewer's phrase) when he was writing the book. I would argue this is probably because they're not that drastically different at all. Of course on the surface we have 5 people who come from very different places all over the world, with different back-stories. But, just as in Player One, I found the different people to be disappointing in the similar ways they talked and thought and narrated. Coupland really just uses the different characters as a sort of formal device to pep up the structure of the novels, but the characters are all really the same person, to my mind. He attempts to give each one their own little tics and characteristics (one is a Sri Lankan who speaks very formal English, one is a Canadian with tourette's, etc etc), but it's all just surface window-dressing. They don't really ring true to me as separate personalities but are more just interchangeable containers for the author's ideas to spout from. Each one has the same types of ideas and acts in almost identical ways in response to events. There's no deep contrasts between them. This is the main reason why this book doesn't get a fifth star.
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Reading Progress

October 21, 2009 – Shelved
September 29, 2011 – Shelved as: novels
February 5, 2012 – Started Reading
February 9, 2012 – Shelved as: fun
February 9, 2012 –
page 226
76.09% "excellent."
February 12, 2012 – Finished Reading

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