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3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 21 May 2017
I'm not too sure of the point of this book. It's a little as though as his follow up to the Sistene Chapel Michaelangelo opted to recreate it, in crayon, on the ceiling of a toilet.

It is very similar in many ways to Microserfs in style and characters except that in this work the characters are simply 1 dimensional projections of their equivalents in Microserfs, projected onto a ridiculous plot that involves a version of Coupland himself, for no obvious reason.

Having said that, once you get over the fact it's going nothing to do with Microserfs, and managed to cope with annoyance that much of the stylistic brilliance you loved in Microserfs is in here simply regurgitated and cheapened it is quite an amusing read and whilst I may not actually recommend it I wouldn't caution people not to read it.
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on 9 July 2006
This is the first Douglas Coupland book I've ever read and I love it. Defiantly in my top 10 books of all time.

It looks like a lot to read when you see how big the book is but the font size is large and the text is broken up with fun games that the podsters play (apparently these all work) and other things you have to figure out for yourself.

The characters are very interesting and you are easy absorbed into their world so you just forget time and don't put the book down; you can get through this book very quickly.

This book is the perfect escape from a dull existence and as soon as I was done I wanted more. I have ordered Generation X and have lent Jpod to a friend who is half way through and also loves it.
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on 6 September 2013
Douglas Coupland is an author who likes to explore the soulless nature of the modern youth. He uses dark humour to do this, but is also prone to over exploring the inner neurosis of small minded people. `JPod' is perhaps his first real departure from this format. The book is still about soulless youth, but Coupland decides to ignore any inner workings in favour of creating one of the funniest books I have read in years.

`JPod' surrounds a groups of late 20s early 30s somethings who all work for the same mindless computer game company. They spend more time thinking up daft tasks than doing work; many of which are printed full in the book. Ethan is the narrator and we follow him through some pretty bizarre adventures that suggest that Coupland was right when he suggested that all families were psychotic. There is a lot of entertainment to be had just reading about Ethan having to deal with his unhinged family.

One other character that stands out in the book is that of Douglas Coupland. That's correct; the author himself has a small role to play in the book. The characters often find themselves overthinking and trying to stop being so Coupland-esque. It would make perfect sense that a group of knowing Vancouver residents understand who Coupland is and what he represents. There are many great moments were the author shoots down his own work. `JPod' is the most knowing and self-referential book by Coupland that I have read and for this reason is the best. Coupland suspects that you know his work by now and plays on that fact. The story is basic, but you know what themes he is planning to explore, so there is no point him going over old ground again. Fans of the author will love this book; other people probably just won't get it.
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on 14 May 2017
This isn't what I thought it would be: an analysis of the way modern life works; more a depiction, with grotesque elements thrown in for interest. A bit superficial therefore, but mostly unpretentious (not counting the size 90 fonts, the forty pages of prime numbers, and all the other gimmicks). As a novel, it is too long. As a source of epigrams of 21st century alienation, it's not so bad. And it's funny. In places.
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on 19 July 2015
While I have a collection called 'Have Read'. I don't have a subset labelled 'But Didn't Finish'. According to page numbering, I am exactly half way through, and decided that I've given it enough time / patience / hope / optimism. The meaningless of life in IT office pods is, no doubt, the DNA of the non-plot here. But for all the observation and occasional humour, I've reach the conclusion that my attention that a reader's attention is better placed where a writer has invested creativity and discipline to build some architecture. More of a joke book and sketch show, less of a novel.
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Sometimes you get a bad feeling from the first page of a book, such as when the author namedrops himself. In this case, clever Douglas Coupland.

Fortunately that bad feeling doesn't continue throughout the geek purgatory of "JPod," which can be seen as a sort of sequel to "Microserfs" -- bored, brilliant people in unfulfilling corporate jobs. It staggers at the midway point, but the corporate bizarrities are definitely worth the read.

When he's not dealing with a doomed video game, Ethan is trying to help his parents -- his pot-growing mum killed a hostile biker, and his wannabe-actor dad is having a hot affair with a sexy girl Ethan's age. To make matters worse, his brother has smugglesd illegal Chinese immigrants into his home without permission. And you thought YOUR day was bad.

Things deteriorate even more when the JPod boss develops an obsessive crush on Ethan's mother, and he ends up getting shipped to China. Now it's Ethan's job to go retrieve him, since the turtle-themed video game is being destroyed by their new manager. But getting the boss back won't be the end of his problems.

Let's get this out of the way: Coupland casts himself as a character in "JPod." Essentially it's his evil, sociopathic clone. Coupland does get credit for not making himself come across as appealing at all, but the whole sequence seems very gimmicky and artificial.

"JPod" itself is a smirky black comedy, with lots of dysfunctional characters and a a lot of all-out comic situations. In fact, he really never lets up with the comedy, with idiot bosses, lesbian mothers with lowercase names, and even a gangster born without a sense of humor. Not to mention love letters to Ronald MacDonald. Yes, the fast-food clown.

But in this view of the world, the best you can hope for is a kind of chaos that is familiar to you, and Coupland takes the opportunity to poke fun at the attitudes he helped trigger. It's a very different tone from more uplifting novels like "Eleanor Rigby," and it suits Coupland's satiric tone very well.

Coupland's strongest writing is on the JPodders themselves. They're not really likable, but they are fascinating. They fill up their worktime with mind games, mathematical riddles, and in-jokes. Unfortunately, these jokes also feel like filler to flesh out the story. At the same time, they meditate on what personality quirks drove them to this job.

"JPod" is wildly uneven and also deeply absurd, a black comedy with a postmodern Dilbert edge. It's not fully satisfying, but it is entertaining.
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on 23 July 2009
I bought this book after watching the complete series of jPod on Virgin Media's on-demand service. Whilst I had not read any of Coupland's material before, but heard opinions from others who had, I had some idea of what to expect. Some pages had me laughing out loud (letters to Ronald, for example), whilst the numerous pages of seemingly unnecessary cruft (e.g. number sequences) infuriated me.

I don't know if Coupland includes himself in the narrative of his other books, but I found his appearance in jPod rather cheesy and, again, unnecessary. I believe the story would have been at least unaffected, at most enhanced, by replacing Coupland (or his evil twin persona, whatever) with another character playing the exact same role. I found his self-inclusion an indulgence, but maybe I missed some nuance or finer point he was trying to make here.

Having read jPod after seeing the excellent TV series, I was disappointed. If I'd read the book first, I probably wouldn't have bothered with the TV show - and that would have been a damn shame.
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on 16 January 2008
Douglas Coupland does it again.....! This book is outrageous in its style and content, subtle in its humor and wonderfully clever. I can understand how this book could be misread, or misinterpreted and why some people would dislike it with an intensity bordering on hatred, but seriously, this book is funny and thought provoking and catches the very essence of the .com generation.

What's this book about? Nerds on an autistic spectrum, drugs, lesbians, murder, useless parents, China, computer games, hug machines... and so it goes on. Combine all this with the not unpleasant but strangely disturbing appearance of Coupland himself into the very pages of the book he wrote and it makes for a wild ride! If you've not read anything else by Coupland this is as good a place to start as any.
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on 12 October 2006
I've heard die-hard Coupland fans give up without finishing J-Pod, and I've heard others say it's genius. I say it's a short story that's been padded out to make a novel. It doesn't have the soul of Microserfs, the Coupland novel most people will compare it to, and its certainly not a sequel. Neither of those things are criticisms. I think it's a misunderstood novel.

One of the things that seems to be putting people off is the self-referencing. I think Coupland's actually playing with his own public perceptions. It can come across as a little smug, but he is deliberately experimenting with his audience a little. (If you've read Kurt Vonnegut's Timequake, or Breakfast with Champions, you'll be familiar with the trick of writing yourself in at the critical moment.) Coupland is exploring, almost satirising, his own public persona, like Eminem seems to do quite regularly on his comeback singles.

J-Pod is not your normal Coupland fayre. There doesn't seem to be any redemption for the characters, nobody sees the light and becomes a better person. The end is almost an anticlimax, an undoing. And yet, it's not a bad book. It's just an anti-Coupland, a negative of Microserfs, an alternative worldview that makes his readers re-appraise his other books.

But if you're a fan and you're still not convinced, I'm confident Coupland's next novel will be nothing like it.
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on 1 April 2017
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