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on 1 June 2001
I read Coupland's other books before this one and approached this one almost expecting to be disappointed. I wasn't. It's obviously not his best but here Coupland has created a deliciously simple story centering around the tales protaganist, Tyler, and his not overly turbulent transition from unaffected youth to relatively unaffected early adulthood. In this one you will find typically cool Coupland dialogue, but it is more naive and, dare I say, even more zeitgeisy than gen x. The characters are younger and the novel serves to illustrate the differences in 60's peace and love and the 80's consumer mentality. His novels are never pessimistic, and the characters are far from the empty, disaffected, mixed up drones of say Easton Ellis. There is chaos, there is confusion but at the last page you are left with nothing but unbridled hope and the sweet taste of optimism.
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on 5 June 2010
I read this as Genration Y expecting an anthesis of Generation X where one of the cool new generation people vs the forsaken people in Generation X.

If I hadn't read American Psycho before this book I'd have not noticed but the grooming part of Patrick Bateman of American Psycho seems to have been borrowed for this book when discussing shampoos, hair sprays or whatever. American Psycho

Bret Eason Ellis did this so much better to portray a shallow materialistic existence. This tacked onto the end of a not so interesting story.

Boy meets girl boy loses girl boy gets dream, the characters are flat as a pancake and I generally didn't give a damn about them and they were terribly cliched quite simply I didn't believe them at all.

Again the ending feels tacked on almost as corny as those films where somebody starts right at the bottom of the company and gets noticed by the CEO type story lines. I'd say it was a teenagers book by the way nothing goes into any sort of depth. Granted generation X wasn't a book where characters had any depth but they were specifically like this because there was no real story line to Generation X it simply does not work here.
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on 19 November 1999
Shampoo planet is probably Couplands least famous novel. A fact that still remains a mystery. Sure it lacks some of those dialogs that made his Generation X into a 90's version of the Catcher in the Rye, but its still way better than Girlfirend in a Coma. Shampoo Planet is more naive but at the same time more realistic than Couplands other novels. The fact that Tyler has not yet past his twenties makes the book more positive in that Adrian-Mole-Kind-of-Way. Beneath all the cyncsim lies a fairly undamaged soul. But Shampoo Planet manages to combine this naivity with modern day irony towards the consumption society and Hollywood envy. The Schampoo Planet is to Coupland what Strangeways Here We Come was to the Smiths. An underrated follow -up to his greatest masterpiece.
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I've read almost all Douglas Coupland's novels more or less in the order of their publication, but had inadvertently omitted this, his second. (Looking at some of the reviews in here, others appear to have missed it as well - perhaps it's been overshadowed by its predecessor, the classic Generation X.) Picking it up to read today is like stepping back in time; it was written in 1992 - that is, before the rise of the Internet - which, since it's a story which builds on teen culture, fashion and consumerism, makes it feel like it comes from another era.

That said, I enjoyed reading this tale of smart, well-groomed Tyler Johnson as he strove to come of age in an undistinguished, decaying American town, with his loving but eccentric family and his witty, flawed friends (both invariant features in much of Coupland's fiction), his neat, clever girlfriend and the emotional fall-out from his summer's trip to Europe. The use of paired adjectives in this sentence echoes Coupland's descriptive style as well - you sometimes feel that his books would be halved in length if his editor capriciously disallowed the use of simile (e.g., "the Pacific sunset [...] like shrink-wrapped, exotic vegetables", "a feeling at once destructive, romantic and grand - like falling into a swimming pool dressed in a tuxedo" [both on p5]). This story has rather more character development than some of his others (or at least, as far as I can remember), and I was pleased to fill in this gap in my experience of his canon.
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on 23 June 2011
Generation X has long passed and we seem to have gone through to about Generation CC by now, even MTV no longer plays music videos. This does not mean that the Gen X books of the 80s and early 90s don't hold their worth as they act as a potent time capsule of the disenfranchised youth of yesteryear. Douglas Coupland was a pioneer of this type of fiction and `Shampoo Planet' is an excellent example. Tyler is a young man who wants to be a yuppie, but he lives in a backward town and has a family full of hippies to keep him company. Who has the right philosophy on life and do we really care?

Like in most Coupland novels `Shampoo' is full of people who are hard to like. No matter if someone is a capitalist or a nature lover they all have one thing in common; complete and utter self absorption. Everyone in `Shampoo' thinks of themselves and although this may be true to life in many ways it makes for a bleak read. The story is about Tyler coming of age and it meanders around America and Europe as he meets new people who let him down. It can't be described as gripping reading, but as a relaxed observation of late 80s life the book works well. It is the moments of almost poetic narrative within the story that make the book worth reading, and not the story as a whole. For the brief glimpses on insight into Coupland's thinking it is just about worth trailing through the sections that could drag you into depression.

`Shampoo Planet' is Coupland as is most usual and is therefore interesting, but narratively flawed.
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on 20 May 2009
I just finished reading this book, and what I can say is that it has a definite feel of a journey about it- one feels like they have travelled with the character, perhaps not greatly distance wise, but certainly experience-wise.

As other reviewers have said, this is not as dazzling as Generation X or as geek-chicy as Microserfs or jPod, but it is a slow burner. A few set-pieces in it stick with you- writing on notes, nuclear flowers in the desert.

At it's core, Shampoo Planet has a romance- that between Tyler and Anne-Louise. Coupland takes us through the full range of emotions one finds- fear, loneliness, sadness, joy and optimism within this pair's interactions.

Interactions are the key point in the book. Focused on a single character (unlike a few of Coupland's other books, which whilst not having a Trainspotting style flit between characters, demonstrate at least sharing of the role of protagonist.), we are introduced to characters with secrets, loves, hates, dreadlocks, dreams and depth. In my opinion, this is what Coupland is best at, and he succeeds here with great aplomb.

Generation Y? Maybe not- but still well worth a read.
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Generation X was a slow read and a cinematic one. You wallowed in it. It packed a punch as history and metaphor. This despatch from a time when Walkmen and satellite dishes were new - Coupland's second (after the pleasurable short pieces of Life Without God) - is more banal; it is one to skim - and I hate skimming. It reads as though written 'in American' by a non-American (which, of course, the Canadian Coupland is): 'go get permanently wasted in Humboldt County'; 'your badge of clean'; 'bust the needle on my scorch meter' - all in the first five pages. The first chapter ends with hideous portentousness (as did Life Without God). But since his books aren't 'about' very much - other than the accumulation of detail (like, if truth be told, our lives) - beginnings and endings are hard. Give it time? Could I be bothered?

And of course Coupland's first two outings also gained immeasurably from their pics..
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on 4 July 2013
After reading Generation X which was a book I borrowed off a friend I was very excited to see what Shampoo Planet would be like as Generation X was a fascinating read and had many great stories within a story and some interesting philosophical ideas. Shampoo Planet isn't as good as Generation X but it comes very close. Tyler is a great character and has an interesting world for you to find out about. The ideas of escaping from a regular life to do something enlightening and fulfilling from Generation X are still here in Shampoo Planet but this is also about a young man who wants to make it in the world of business and find his purpose. It is a book about discovery and identity and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I would recommend it if you liked Generation X and I will definitely be buying the next Douglas Copuland book that came out after Shampoo Planet in hope that it will engage me as much as his first 2 books.
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on 25 February 2008
I'm afraid I didn't enjoy this book at all - I couldn't believe in any of the characters (and therefore didn't care what happened to them). The French girl was particularly charmless. Not recommended - go for JPod, Girlfriend In A Coma or All Families Are Psychotic, but avoid this.
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on 1 July 2002
Not Coupland's best work but certainly enjoyable from start to finish, with some moments of utter beauty that are difficult to describe. If you know Coupland's works, you'll understand what I mean. I'm not going to go deeply into the plot, which revolves chiefly around Tyler's hair, KittyWhip, Daisy & Murray's dreadlocks, Les French Babes, wax crayon rubbings and a certain exotic smelling stamp collection... you have to read the book yourself. All I will say is that the last few pages of the book are perhaps the most beautiful of any book I've ever read (inferior only to those of Coupland's infamous 'Generation X'). A thoroughly satisfying end to a throughly enjoyable novel. Big respect to Doug.
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