I think that I might have found a new favorite author, and one that resides in my area to boot! Generation A is the third book that I have read by Douglas Coupland. Previously I have read Player One and Girlfriend in a Coma, and currently I am reading Microserfs. I don’t really do much in moderation. Generation A was the first book that I read this year that I really loved. However while reading it part of me was wondering exactly why I loved it so much because it seems to have elements that I sometimes disliked in other books, the third act is largely composed of short stories within the main narrative for one. But for whatever reason, something about Generation A really worked for me.
The book follows five people that have received bee stings in a world where bees are believed to be extinct. The book was written in 2009 and it is set in the near future. Each of those stung tells their tale in alternating chapters as we read on. As soon as each is stung, they are put into isolation where they are not allowed to read, or have entertainment of any kind. They are made to eat this crazy jello like substance and they have blood taken in large amounts daily. While in isolation they are not even able to see any other people and only communicate with the scientists that have taken them via a computerized voice.
Most of the rest of the world now uses a prescription drug called Solon that makes time go faster and alleviates fear of the future. It also makes people happier in solitude and lose a sense of meaning in their world. Due to the lack of bees, many items are hard to come by and there are droughts and barren areas in many places that were once green. The fact that the 5 “wonka kids” were stung gives many people hope where it was greatly lacking before.
After their release they are unable to continue on with their old lives and eventually they all end up together on a remote island in British Columbia. They are told that they are going to try and get the bees to return by telling each other stories in order to stimulate their brains to produce a specific micro protein. The stories all seem to share common threads, and it also helps them to exercise parts of their brains that remain largely unused due to the digital culture that is so familiar to us all today.
What voice do you hear in your head when you read? This is one of the discussions that the characters have as they tell their stories. I found this interesting. I have never really considered this before, the voice in my head seems to be my own, but in reality it is a toned down version of myself, and it is likely different from what I sound like when I talk aloud but I have been reading for so long that it is as familiar to myself as the voice that I use for speaking.
Coupland has a gift for creating worlds that one can just sink right into. I recommend very much giving this one a read, and like me I imagine that you will want to read more of his works once you start.
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