Generation A examines “a world where bees are extinct, until five unconnected people from around the world–in the United States, Canada, France, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka–are all stung.”
Those five individuals are our avatars into the world of Generation A; Zack Lammle, Samantha Tolliver, Julien Picard, Diana Beaton, and Harj Vetharanayan are unique and yet form an unlikely hive through their shared experience.
As the story unfolds, more stories come tumbling out with it. This novel is not just a collection of five – six at final count – perspectives. It is also a collection of various stories told by these characters. And in classic Coupland fashion he has something to say, and these characters say it well, in a way not too dissimilar to his debut with Generation X.
This story is not a literal sermon on the state of our world as it was when this book was first published in 2009. Given all that has happened since then, however, it is both odd and frightening how relevant its text remains.
Even these five out of context quotes and lines from within the book have a relevance today that may even be relevant to your current situation as you read this review:
“What is a prayer but a wish for the events in your life to string together to form a story–something that makes some sense of events you know have meaning.”
“Fame without the money to insulate you from it is one of the most wretched human conditions possible.”
“Ideology is for people who don’t trust their own experiences and perceptions of the world.”
“Isn’t it weird that Hotmail accounts still exist?”
“Amazon increases the need of humans to own books, but not necessarily to read them.”
Ok, well, the last two are just amazing observations for 2009 that remain thought-provoking to me even now in 2023 as I read and reviewed this novel.
Is Douglas Coupland the voice of a singular generation? No. He’s not speaking just to Generation X or even Millennials. He is an artist raging against the devolution of our culture by making observations that will remain relevant despite the time passing between those observations and when they are discovered by the next reader.
The inside cover of Generation A touts it as exploring “new ways of storytelling in a digital world. Like much of Coupland’s writing, it occupies the perplexing hinterland between optimism about the future and everyday apocalyptic paranoia.”
I don’t know who wrote that part inside the dust jacket, but they get an A-plus with extra stars for succinctly espousing the reasons that this book will be eminently readable for the foreseeable future. It’s also why you should pick up a copy as soon as you can.
Also, while this book can be read by yourself, if you have a friend who also likes to read and whom you happen to enjoy talking with, this may be a great book to read together whether it be for an actual book club or an impromptu one. I’m working on making the latter happen as I will be purchasing a copy of this book for a friend, because I definitely want to talk about this book with someone!