My review of Generation A

Douglas Coupland’s (most?) recent novel, Generation A, is book number 10 in my 26 in 52 Challenge. It caught my eye while trying to use up a gift certificate I got for my birthday last month. This one was billed as the new Generation X, and meant to take a look at storytelling in the digital world. I’d read a couple of his books already (and reviewed one or two on here) so I thought I’d give it a go.

The premise of the book is about five young people who lived in separate parts of the world, and were all stung by bees within about a few days of eachother. The quirky part is that bees are extinct (which is a bit of social commentary on where we’re headed anyway, but this time with a twist, which I won’t reveal). After they’re stung, government-types come and take them away and they become media sensations. They’re each put in secluded rooms and are studied to find the properties that attracted the supposedly dying/dead species to sting them in the first place.

Eventually the five connect with one another and after a sequence of events end up sharing fictional stories together. Each person told about two stories, which were probably the most interesting part of the book. For example, the one of Bartholomew who had been around since cave man times and had developed the English language. He helped take it from ughs to proper grammar, but eventually language started to degrade into txk sp33k, which caused Bartholomew to become disengage himself from the bastardized language. One day, after he noticed it was too silent, Bartholomew discovered that the rapture had come and taken everyone away, except for those who hadn’t accepted the new way of speaking.

This was a weird book for me to wrap my head around. Compared to the other stuff I read by Coupland, this one seemed a bit science fiction-like, which threw me off. To me there was little flow between the fictional tales told by the five sting victims and the reasons for the plot as a whole was a little outlandish. The book did however take a look at storytelling, as mentioned, which is something we don’t do very much of (verbally anyway). We’re often stuck on our mobile devices or writing our lame blogs, but creativity sometimes falls by the wayside in favour of immediacy of a message. It’s a good reminder to sit back and let those creative juices flow; it’s always there, you just have to pay attention.

My final verdict for Generation A, is a 2.5/5

Jessica at RoundLetters shares a different opinion of the book and it’s a good read for comparison if you get the chance.

If you’ve read the book, tell me what you thought about it!

My review of The Gum Thief

I finished The Gum Thief the day before I left for Calgary and it’s review got pushed to the back burner, and eventually forgotten – until now.

This was book number six in my “26 in 52 Challenge” and the second Douglas Coupland book I’ve read; the first being Hey Nostradamus! which I read maybe three years ago, and enjoyed enough to try his work out again. The plot for The Gum Thief is pretty simple. It revolves around a guy who works at a Staples in Vancouver and he’s had issues with his recent divorce. He spends his spare time writing a fiction novel, which has many similar characters from his life at Staples. The piece ends up being read by one of his coworkers, who is originally freaked out by the similarities, specifically to her own self, and how accurate they are. Throughout the novel the two coworkers become closer through writing to each other. There’s never any verbal dialogue between the two but they begin helping each other out with the difficult situations that have come up in their lives.

I like Coupland’s novels because of the strong character development, but the people just seem too depressed all the time. I hope all his books aren’t like that, even though I’m sure I’d read them regardless of the fact. I recommend The Gum Thief if you’re looking for an easy read. It won’t blow your mind or leave you wanting more, which is one of the reasons I haven’t been quick to read all of his books. I’ll give this one a 3.5/5.

Are you a fan of Douglas Coupland’s writing? If so, what is your favourite book from him?

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