Generation A – Douglas Coupland – Book Review

Generation A by Douglas Coupland, copyright 2009.

Publisher: Windmill Books

Pages: 357

Source: Personal Collection – Purchased New

Reason for Reading: Review by Farm Lane Books Blog

I was persuaded to read Generation A after reading this terrific review written by Jackie at Farm Lane Books Blog in which she gave the Douglas Coupland book a full five stars. Jackie and I tend to have similar literary tastes, so I was expecting to be head-over-heels for the book, but such was, unfortunately, not the case. The premise of this story is fantastic, a future in which bees have become extinct. Sounds like a winning story doesn’t it?

It’s sometime in the future, not far from now; bees are extinct and life on Earth is slowly becoming more depressing and meaningless as plant species after plant species dies off. Drug use is on the rise as humans begin looking for ways to make their meaningless existence pass more quickly. Over the course of a few short weeks, five young people from around the globe are stung by the apparently extinguished pollinating creatures. Each of them is whisked away to a remote holding facility where they are held in isolation and poked and prodded with needles. They are told they are being studied to find out why the bees chose to sting them; there must be something in them that was attracting the creatures. Eventually all five are brought together to discuss their experiences and (this is where it got weird for me) to tell stories. It is through the telling of their stories that the truth of their captivity and the truth about the extinction of the bees is revealed.

That’s about as much as I can say without giving anything away, but it was at that point, where they begin telling their stories that I thought the whole thing started to go downhill. As the stories are told and the reality of their situation became more evident, everything started to seem increasingly far-fetched. It culminated on the second to last page when there was a mention of …

****(Mouse over to expose spoiler)–> EATING BRAINS <–(End of spoiler) *****

and that just destroyed the story for me completely and utterly. I don’t have enough imagination for that kind of thing and I think I had been expecting the story to remain in the realm of the realistic. I’m not much of a fan of dystopian anything to begin with, for the very reasons I just mentioned, so I suppose I should have known better than to think this would be any different.

Generation A is a commentary on the direction in which our society is heading. The continued emphasis on profit based economy and our societal mantra of want and want more are coming at the sacrifice of something much greater as we manipulate our environment for our own purposes and drive the Earth towards disaster.

“Corn is a fucking nightmare. A thousand years ago it was a stem of grass with one scuzzy little kernel; now it’s a bloated, foot-long, buttery carb dildo. And get this: cornstarch molecules are a mile long. Back in the seventies, Big Corn patented some new enzyme that chops those miles into a trillion discrete blips of fructose. A few years later these newly liberated fructose molecules assault the national food chain. Blammo! An entire nation becomes morbidly obese.” Generation A, page 3.

There is no question that Douglas Coupland is a wonderful author. I found myself howling at some of the witticisms and sarcasm contained in this book. His writing is both engaging and fast paced, and as much as I found myself loathing the story towards the end, I retained an insatiable need to press on. If I can find another one of his novels that is based solidly in reality, I am quite certain I will give Coupland another chance.

RATING: Pretty Baaaaaahd


About Robbie

Hi there, my name is Robbie Burns (no,really, that’s my name…hold the haggis jokes please) and I would like to welcome you to the Pink Sheep Cafe. I started this blog as a means of discussing books and all things literary in light of my perpetual isolation. At the time I began writing, I was living in Split, Croatia. There wasn’t much here in the way of English book clubs and I couldn’t work, so I badly needed something to help me bide my time. My partner and I have since left Croatia and returned to Canada to live in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. When we first moved back here, my blog writing sort of fell by the wayside, but now I seem to be back on track. I try to read and review a little bit of everything here; I think everyone can find something to their liking here. I find myself tending more towards more literary reads these days, but I also enjoy a lot of YA and children’s fiction. One of my ongoing goals is to work my way through all of the Nobel Laureates. My two most favorite authors are Timothy Findley and Halldor Laxness.
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4 Responses to Generation A – Douglas Coupland – Book Review

  1. winstonsdad says:

    great review ,I used to be huge Coupland fan have his first 6 novels and really must catch up on his most recent stuff ,lnow this has a connection to the genx book which is one of my favourite books by him ,all the best stu

  2. This review was absolutely wonderful. I think because Douglas Coupland has such a specific brand of humour it can get a bit difficult to fathom after awhile… I thoroughly enjoyed Girlfriend in a Coma (though some people absolutely hate that book). I guess he’s one of those “love ‘im or hate ‘im” kind of writer. But thank you for the heads up and very well written review. Perhaps I might even give it a try!


  3. leeswammes says:

    Thanks for this review. I didn’t realise you were reading this book. I read it only last week. I agree totally with you about the spoiler part, that really struck me as silly and unnecessary. I also didn’t like the stories to begin with, but that was because I don’t like stories in a longer story all that much.

    I do like dystopian novels so in that sense, this book was fine.

    I’m glad you didn’t totally hate this book. I’m a Coupland fan and I hope you’ll find another book by him that you’ll like more. Try for instance, Eleanor Rigby.

    My review of Generation A is here:

  4. Oh no! Sorry you didn’t enjoy this one more. I am a fan of dystopian novels so don’t mind when things get unrealistic – as long as there is a point to it. I felt there was a lot of truth in this book and we can learn a lot from the extremes of the plot.

    I normally hate short stories so was very happy to discover that I really enjoyed the ones in this book. I’m afraid this was my first Coupland so can’t let you know which one to try next, but I am planning to read his new book in the next few weeks so hopefully I’ll be able to recommend that to you.

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