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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well, I loved it
I've been a fan of Coupland's since "Girlfriend in a Coma" was published, and since then have read all of his work. Personally I've loved almost all of it since "Girlfriend...", although "JPod" and "The Gum Thief" were slight lapses, albeit still enjoyable, but his earlier output hasn't appealed to me quite as much. "Generation X", although lauded by many as his best...
Published on 24 Sep 2009 by Peter Lee

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable but unambitious Coupland
Douglas Coupland seems to be the type of writer around whom cults aggregate. He attracts the kind of fan for whom a favourite writer can do no wrong. At his best, he is funny, intelligent and sharply observant, but uncritical praise does nobody any favours. At his worst, he falls easily into slack self-parody. 'Generation A' is not Coupland at his worst, but it's far from...
Published on 23 Nov 2010 by Paul Bowes


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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well, I loved it, 24 Sep 2009
By 
Peter Lee (Manchester ,United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Generation A (Hardcover)
I've been a fan of Coupland's since "Girlfriend in a Coma" was published, and since then have read all of his work. Personally I've loved almost all of it since "Girlfriend...", although "JPod" and "The Gum Thief" were slight lapses, albeit still enjoyable, but his earlier output hasn't appealed to me quite as much. "Generation X", although lauded by many as his best book, has never really grabbed me on any of the three occasions I've read it, hoping to find that certain something I'd somehow missed.

"Generation A" is not a sequel to "Generation X", and it grips from the start. Imagine a future where bees are extinct, but somehow five people around the world (USA, Canada, France, Sri Lanka and New Zealand) are all suddenly stung. Helicopters or military transport planes land, figures in hazmat suits step out, and the five individuals are taken away, drugged and bound if they struggle. When they come to they find themselves in research facilities, furnishings stripped of all brand identities, and each day they have blood samples taken, a computer generated voice talking to them in an accent of their choice, asking them questions about themselves. They are eventually released, but are soon recalled to an island off the coast of Canada and instructed to tell each other stories...

I found the first half of the book utterly gripping, wondering who the people were, how and why they'd been stung by a seemingly extinct species, and why they had been rounded up. I was a little concerned at the start of the second half as I thought the individual stories (not reminiscences, but short pieces of fiction) would drag and become repetitive, but this was far from the truth - they were all hugely enjoyable and incredibly created. What was the purpose of this though? Ahhh - it all comes together beautifully in the end, and any hints in this review would ruin the surprises.

Yes, it's true to say that most of the narrators "sound" the same as each other, but don't all of Coupland's characters all ultimately sound a little like Coupland? The reviewer who complained about the mentions of "Finnegans Wake" clearly didn't understand why this was mentioned (it is explained in the book), and as for the occasional bit of weird grammar, well, the book is supposed to be the sound of people talking, inventing stories on the spur of the moment, and not all of us speak perfectly all of the time.

"Eleanor Rigby" used to be my favourite Coupland novel, but I think this has trumped it. I loved it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Generation Bee, 17 Nov 2009
By 
Noel - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Generation A (Hardcover)
Douglas Coupland's latest novel sees a not to distant world of ours devoid of bees and therefore things like fruit and flowers. A strange drug called Solon is sweeping the planet, it's effects rendering the user carefree and unafraid of the future with a deep inner peace that stops them interacting with other humans and makes them seek solitude. Highly addictive, the drug is wiping out human creativity as well as the bees.

Five people, seemingly random, across the planet are stung by bees. They are suddenly whisked away for testing and become instant global celebrities. Shortly after being released back into the world they are recaptured and taken to a remote island off the coast of Canada and made to tell stories, the idea being something in the telling of stories releases a protein into their blood and the mixture could become a cure for Solon.

Well, damn the negative reviews, I loved it! "Generation A" mixes two of Coupland's strengths - his humour like in "Microserfs" and "jPod", and his humanity like in "Eleanor Rigby" - together with his visions of a not too far off society. The result is his best book to date.

If you've read Coupland before you'll know his love of employing gimmicks into his stories. The reams of numbers in "jPod" or the novel within a novel in "The Gum Thief" or the new dictionary slang of "Generation X" - in "Generation A" the second half is taken up by short stories told by the characters. While this might irk some (short stories are notoriously niche) let me tell you the stories are brilliant. They not only fit into the themes of the book but are great stories to be enjoyed for the sake of stories.

I won't go into too much depth here but what I got from Coupland was his message of humans telling stories to humans is what makes us human. While Solon (so alone?) is a sort of futuristic drug like Huxley's Soma that induces in the user the feeling of having read a thousand books in an hour, telling stories engages the teller and the listener in the present and keeps us together. The overall message is of stories and company and how this is the only antidote to the growing isolation of humans as a result of the tidal wave of technology.

Read without any subtext, the book is a joy for the reader and a masterclass in writing from Coupland. The pacing is kept up throughout and the world he portrays, while different, retains an odd sense of familiarity. It's accessible for new readers and old and while Coupland has his ups and downs (to be expected from a writer whose approaches and ideas to novels changes from one book to the next) this is most certainly a brilliant book and probably his best. Amazing stuff, highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Coupland for a while..., 11 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Generation A (Paperback)
This is an excellent read, which challenges the reader to assess themselves as they go.

I read this over a two day period and loved his use of multiple first person viewpoints, which gave depth to the characters, and also forced you to piece together the context around the characters. At no point though was this a "tough" read.

It's tough to comment without spoilers, so best I can say is that ultimately this is a positive book, a great read and one I'd read again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable but unambitious Coupland, 23 Nov 2010
By 
Paul Bowes (Wales, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Generation A (Paperback)
Douglas Coupland seems to be the type of writer around whom cults aggregate. He attracts the kind of fan for whom a favourite writer can do no wrong. At his best, he is funny, intelligent and sharply observant, but uncritical praise does nobody any favours. At his worst, he falls easily into slack self-parody. 'Generation A' is not Coupland at his worst, but it's far from his best.

The book isn't in any meaningful sense a successor to 'Generation X', except as it offers yet another group of young people who are forced to deal with a change in the Zeitgeist. It's set in the near future, and this is a future that offers no very radical departures from the present. The environmental problems have worsened - the bees, and some other insects, have vanished or are in terminal decline. The human addiction to virtual reality and electronic communication has become more deeply rooted. A variety of technological quick fixes - emigration to Mars, a drug that 'cures' the human inability to tolerate solitude - are on offer to address the evident growing disconnection between humanity and the real world.

What follows is part dystopian fantasy, part thriller. Five young people in different parts of the world are stung almost simultaneously by bees, and the race is on to discover whether this is the turning point in the world's decline, for better or worse.

Readers familiar with Coupland will find few surprises here: if you've enjoyed his recent books, particularly 'Girlfriend in a Coma', it's likely that you'll enjoy this too. For me, it falls well short of his best. Like too many of Coupland's novels, it begins well and then seems to lose energy around the halfway mark, before drawing to an untidy conclusion. It invites comparison at different points with Vonnegut, DeLillo, Houellebecq and Richard Powers, without ever doing enough to suggest that Coupland might be in the same league.

It's never less than readable, and sometimes amusing, though I suspect that the patience of other readers will be strained by the long section in which the five bee-stung protagonists are obliged to tell amateurish stories-within-the-story. Never has the veneer of Coupland's postmodernism seemed thinner or the literary nods - in this case to Boccaccio - more strained.

If you're completely new to Coupland, I'd suggest starting elsewhere. Try 'Life After God' and 'Eleanor Rigby' for the more serious stuff: 'Microserfs' and 'J-Pod' for the cultural satirist.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not one of his best, 2 Nov 2010
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This review is from: Generation A (Paperback)
...which is a real shame, as Douglas Coupland is a great writer, with an unerring ability to wittily and succinctly precis the current human condition. This book had a promising start, but I think Coupland couldn't figure out how to end the story. By using the device of having the five central characters tell stories at the end, I think he was buying himself time to figure out the conclusion of the book- which was lazy and disappinting. He mentions James Joyce as being unreadable bilge that gets the Emperors New Clothes treatment from credulous readers. I couldn't help thinking that the reviews of Generation A, so proudly printed on the book's cover were a perfect example of the same. Microserfs and JPod were much tighter and funnier- and both more satisfying than this, as they were proper (very wittily barbed) stories.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Subtle and alluring, 3 April 2014
This review is from: Generation A (Hardcover)
Not Coupland at his best but definitely a must for all those that read generation x when it first came out. Funny, subtle, and understated. Far worse books are rated much more favourably on
here!!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Generation A, 21 Oct 2013
This review is from: Generation A (Paperback)
Generation X, a tale of youth in revolt against an increasingly consumerist society, was Douglas Coupland's hugely successful first novel and he has returned, with moderate success, to the same style of framed narrative for his most recent offering, Generation A. Generation X had such a massive cultural impact that its title became a much bandied about moniker for several generations but, just as society seemed to the central characters in the novel itself, the phrase "Generation X" quickly seemed false, predictable and unsatisfactory. In this spirit, during a commencement address he was giving at Syracuse University in 1994, Kurt Vonnegut commented: "Now you young twerps want a new name for your generation? Probably not, you just want jobs, right? Well, the media do us all tremendous favours when they call you Generation X, right? Two clicks from the end of the alphabet. I hereby declare you Generation A, as much at the beginning of a series of astonishing triumphs and failures as Adam and Eve were so long ago". So it is almost with a sense of rebellion against Generation X that Coupland named Generation A.

Generation A is set in the not too distant future, approximately 2020 it seems, where things are pretty much the same as they are now save for the fact that bees are presumed to be extinct. While the major implication of such a rapid extinction may well seem clear, Coupland also focuses on the minor effects. When a group of meth addicts are encountered by one of the characters, it is remarked that they would once have been heroin addicts but of course "poppies require bees". Aside from the absence of bees, the secondary difference to contemporary society is that the majority of the world's population are addicted to Solon, a narcotic that "mimics the solitude one feels when reading a good book". Given the supposed downturn in the number of people who regularly read books, it's quite surprising that a drug with such an effect caught on really.

Coupland bases the narrative of Generation A around a group of five characters who each take turns to narrate the chapters. Zack Lammle is an Iowan farmer with ADD who enjoys driving a combine harvester while naked and carving phallic images into his fields so that they can be seen from space. He also offers a nice, pithy introduction to the other four main characters of Generation A: "Sam was a fox, Julian looked like a snotty arcade rat, Diana looked like a dental hygienist and Harj looked like a mild-mannered 9/11hijacker with a heart of gold". On first glance they may seem a rather disparate group but it quickly becomes clear that they are united by a love of storys, an in-depth knowledge of pop-culture and an overwhelming belief that life isn't treating them as well as it should. More importantly, all five of them have recently been stung by bees.

Once word of this mass stinging gets out, all five stingees are quickly rounded up by government officials and placed in isolation centres where they are forbidden from accessing novels and popular branded items and are thoroughly medically examined. Despite extensive searching, scientists are unable to locate any hives in the areas surrounding the locations where the bee stings occurred. The five latent consumers are released but, having been offered no explanation for what happened to them, find themselves drawn together despite their cultural and social differences. Eventually they are relocated by the government once again and are settled on a remote Canadian archipelago where they pass the time by telling each other stories.

Generation A is a good novel but not a great one. Coupland seems to be repeating the plot devices and characterisations that brought him great success with Generation X but he doesn't seem to be building on them. There was a distinct sense that Generation A had been done before. Coupland has excellent ideas but they don't always translate into an excellent, cohesive plot; it can often seem that he sabotages his own storyline by throwing in an unnecessary quip or reference. Having said all that, while long-term fans may be disappointed, Coupland is a superbly poetic writer and Generation A is an enjoyable read that has moments of magic.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Channelling Palahniuk?, 5 Sep 2013
By 
J. Ang - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Generation A (Kindle Edition)
Whenever I pick up a book by Douglas Coupland, I suspend any expectation of a conventional plotline or narrative and brace myself for the quirky. In this sense, "Generation A" doesn't disappoint with its near futuristic setting and the premise that bee stings in a world where bees have become extinct become a sort of national and scientific phenomenon.

The 5 characters who are as disparate in terms of geographical background as they are in personality (though they are all twenty-somethings, and presumably the Generation A of their times) headline each chapter, and the first part of the novel opens promisingly enough, when their shared experience creates a kind of bond between them, even as they are prodded and pricked as individual scientific experiments by corporate scientists who try to establish a cause to this unlikely occurrence.

However, by the middle of the novel, one gets the idea that Coupland has written a whole bunch of (engaging enough) short stories which he felt he had to plug into the novel in a self-conscious attempt to "[explore] new ways of storytelling in a digital world" (as the inner flap of the book jacket boasts). He does explain the reason for these stories that the characters tell one another and tie up all the loose ends in a shocking way at the end of the novel, though by then I felt disengaged by the narrative. In some ways, I felt he was channelling Canadian contemporary Chuck Palahniuk's earlier novel "Haunted", where a group a characters are bundled into a secret writers' retreat, though that was a far more grisly work, and I would be loathe to suggest any plagiarism on Coupland's part, since the settings and storylines are vastly different.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best novel, 29 Aug 2013
This review is from: Generation A (Paperback)
I do like a lot of Douglas Coupland's books but this one didn't do it for me. I am not too sure why as it is a lot like his other books. Anyway, it took me ages to get through and it wasn't the page turner that I had hoped for.
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3.0 out of 5 stars starts off well, 9 Aug 2013
By 
This review is from: Generation A (Paperback)
I recently tried to reread this book as I was unclear about the quotes included in the novel. On second reading, the global aspect of this book is refreshing, and I always rely on Doug to be up to date and topical. This is very much a book of our present moment. I found the pace of the first section when we discover how everyone got stung to be a great read, but the reasons why they told stories to one another to be tenuous. The Superman story is great. I got bored of the book after that and didn't want to continue. The amoral doug of JPod really worked and the tone was just right, but in this novel I think Doug was trying to be shocking and it doesn't impress. The foul language in places was just offensive, from someone who writes from such a beautiful place, too. I wouldn't read it again.
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Generation A
Generation A by Douglas Coupland (Paperback - 2 Sep 2010)
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