Hello again you lovely people! It’s Wednesday again – I know, I need to try and keep better track of the days. But when the sun is out, one day rolls into another. Reading in the sun has to be one of the biggest highlights of being furloughed, so I decided to bring you an unprompted review of Girlfriend In A Coma!
Girlfriend In A Coma [AFF] by Douglas Coupland was given to me by a family friend who had been doing a clear out. She had a load of all different books, but when I read the blurb I thought it sounded different and like something I might enjoy.
‘What did Karen see that December night? What pictures of tomorrow could so disturb her that she would flee into a refuge of bottomless sleep? Why would she leave me?’
It’s 15 December, 1979, and Richard’s girlfriend Karen has entered a deep coma. She only took a couple of valium washed down with a cocktail, but now she’s locked away in suspended animation, oblivious to the passage of time. What if she were to wake up decades later – a 17-year-old girl in a distant future, a future where the world has gone dark?
So as you can see, it was a slightly different type of read for me. I sat down to read it, and I’ll be honest it was a little strange to read at first. I wasn’t even sure I would finish reading it, but my rule is always stick through the first 3 chapters and then it can go in the DNF pile if I still can’t stick with it.
Opening the story with Jared the ghost, I couldn’t quite get into the style of writing. It seemed a little crass, and I wasn’t fond of the style of writing, but when chapter two started I was hooked. We follow Richard, Karen, and their 5 friends. They’re skiing and partying and having a good time. Then, as you find out in the blurb, Karen becomes significantly unwell and goes into a coma. After that, we stick with Richard for the years following. As he struggles to continue with life without his girlfriend and the love of his life, Richard floats from one job to the next, driving away his friends, who themselves never quite get over the death of their friend Jared and then Karen in a coma.
Throughout Girlfriend In A Coma, Coupland proposes quite a few philosophical questions about life in general for the group of friends. Pam, who’s life becomes everything she ever dreamt of, struggles with the success and fame. Linus ends up wandering the continent searching for answers that are ever hiding from him. Richard wonders what life is meant to be for them – both individually and as a collective. And quite often while reading it made me query the way life is for us.
I was drawing parallels between Richard’s musings that maybe the technological advancements they are in wonder of are all the positives. He debates whether people are actually living as they put more and more pressure on themselves to constantly be learning and improving themselves and filling calendars with events, or whether life is better being able to stop and breath and spend time with the people they care about. That overall theme throughout the novel struck me as quite emotive. Especially considering the circumstance we are currently surrounded by – a world where many of us have been forced to slow out lives down and spend more time with family.
Overall, I would be giving Girlfriend In A Coma 8 out of 10 as a rating. Once I got used to the style of writing, and learnt which character was which – difficult to follow at first – it was a very easy read, and one I would recommend if you’re looking for a light read that gets you thinking more than you realise.