Generation A is Douglas Coupland’s 13th book. Apart from a writer, Douglas is also an artist and graphic designer. In Generation A he takes us to our future. Our future where in contrast to what we think, not everything is better, but a lot is worse. Fuel is almost gone, travelling is so expensive barely anyone can do it, and the bees are extinct. This has a lot of consequences, because there barely is any fruit, and a lot of plants are extinct. Because carbs are about the only thing eatable, a lot of people are extremely fat.
Then five people get stung by a bee. Zack, a farmer with a crave for attention. Samantha, whose parents are into the new drug ‘solon’, and chose to not believe in anything. Julien, a gamer whose account got deleted for no appaerent reason. Harj, a guy working in a call centre for A&F, and who has the invented ‘sounds for rooms’. The fifth person is Dianna, a girl with Tourette, who can’t help but speak her mind all the time.
The world is in shock when they get stung. The bees are alive. But why did they sting these people? The connection, something they don’t know, is that these five people have got a special enzyme in their blood that attracts the bees. The enzyme creates a feeling that is the same as what you get when reading a good book. This gets discovered by a scientist named Serge, who kidnaps them and puts them into brandless, white rooms, where no-one can tell day or time. After they get out of their rooms, after a couple of months, they are incredibly famous. This is not as good as it sounds, and after a while they feel the need to meet the other people who are stung.
In the second part of the book they are taken to an island where they meet each other and have to tell stories. A lot of stories. For example this one. And through these stories they come to a very extreme conclusion, the thing that saves them in the end.
I thought Generation A was a very good book and well written. I found the first part of the book great, it took me a little while to get the characters, but when I did I understood them. I really saw the characters develop. For example the gamer Julien starts as an annoying boy, irritated with the world, who hates going outside and would never do it if it hadn’t been for being kicked out of WOW (World of Warcraft). In the end he’s really grown and mature and I liked him a lot more.
The second part of the book I liked a lot less. Instead of continuing with the story, the characters start telling stories. The stories were OK, but it made reading the book less fun, and the speed that the first part of the book has, is completely gone. The conclusion of the book, is a little extreme in my opinion, and fits a horror book better then this genre.
Nevertheless, if you want to know about how out future society could function, and if you are a little too happy at the moment, this is your book.
The quote Douglas based the title on is:
‘Now you young twerps want a new name for your generation? Probably not, you just want jobs, right? Well, the media do us all such tremendous favors when they call you Generation X, right? Two clicks from the very end of the alphabet. I hereby declare you Generation A, as much at the beginning of a series of astonishing triumphs and failures as Adam and Eve were so long ago.’
Kurt Vonnegut, May 8, 1994
I think this is very appropriate because these new problems, like no fuel, the melting northpole and the possible extinction of the bees, give us new ways to invent, create and are a stimulation for solutions. We know what life will look like in a couple of decades if we don’t do anything. Why wait until we are Generation A to do something about it. Let’s do something now.