-by Douglas Coupland
448 pages (2005)

Book Rule #15: Sequels are always disappointing.

Coupland’s' JPod is no exception to that rule. Although never blatantly publicized as a ‘sequel’, it is hypothetically purported to be Coupland’s new millennia answer to his early 1990s geek epic, Microserfs.

My comparison, Microserfs vs. JPod, in short?

Microserfs, in my opinion, was Coupland’s zenith of writing aptitude — fresh and original with ‘real’ characters that many a geek could relate to. The microserfs made you want to care about what happened to them. The story actually went somewhere.

JPod? Stale as 3-week-old bread, artificial as Twin Equal ‘sugar’ packets, featuring two-dimensional unbelievable characters. Gone are the refreshingly all-too-human disillusioned "microserfs" with their witty repertoires and flat foods. They are replaced with JPod'ers — dusky, gutter-mouthed and aimless, with their couldn’t-care-less-about-anything attitudes. The result? We could care less about them. Coupled with an implausible, over-the-top, and insipid plot, it is a novel that evokes apathy and indfference. Coupland’s frequent referrals (blatant plugs) to his other works of fiction were uncomfortable and tawdry.

Not that there weren’t any redeeming qualities in the book. The reader is treated to a few remaining bits of Microserfs-esque laurels — the memoir-like narrative, the fun cubicle surveys (“if you were to sell yourself as an item on eBay”) and splash pages with binary, spam, and technical what-not. However, it was not enough to compensate for JPod's weak plot and characters, which ultimately made the novel uninteresting and difficult to finish. As much as I wanted to like it, I didn’t. At all.

It was mentioned by a friend and fellow Microserf-aficionado that it’s “harder for authors to write like disenchanted young people when they have been rich and famous for 20 years.”

I agree 101% and couldn’t put it better myself.


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