But it's going to try to leap out of that endgame and redeem the time. It's clear from the novel's opening pages that this time is a few short years into the future. In between now and then, one major thing has happened - bees have become extinct. Coupland is very good on the minor ramifications of this.
When one character spots a group of meth-heads, they observe, "In the old days they'd have been heroin addicts, but poppies require bees. The action starts when Iowa farmboy Zack, midway through combine-harvesting a vast cock and balls corn circle into one of his cornfields, is stung by a bee. Four further people are also, over the next few months, stung. But despite the surrounding areas being closed down and minutely examined by government scientists, no active hives are found. Zack and the other "Wonka children", as they think of themselves, are all renditioned off to isolation units, where they are subjected to sensory deprivation no brands, no novels , fed on a strange beefy jelly and have massive amounts of blood taken.
Eventually they are released and, bewildered, find themselves drawn together. Or rather, Coupland begins gradually to draw them together until, impatient to get on with things, he simply has them renditioned once more - to Canada's most remote archipelago, Haida Gwaii. Up until this point, the novel has been a weird but intoxicating cocktail of literary influences: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, generic biotechno-thrillers, Stephen King's apocalyptic vein, the complete works of Douglas Coupland.
Now, though, it explicitly declares its wish to be a modern Decameron. The Wonka kids have escaped the plague, so they will sit around telling one another stories. Most readers know pretty much what to expect from Douglas Coupland. Sentence by sentence, he'll be a joy to read. Worse, he no longer seems to have anything new to say.
Here's book number seven all about lonely people meeting serendipitously and being brought together by stress and instantly liking each other quite a lot. One of them is the sexually thrilling alpha male, one or more of them is the charming overly verbose supergenius in disguise this time hidden behind a Simpsons reference that would have felt relevant in , one of them has a barely medical profession that allows them to conduct eleventh-hour medical miracles dental hygienists can expertly excise tracking beacons from deep in human tissue without causing severe damage I guess.
What made me so mad -- albeit irrationally -- while reading this book was seeing that it was just a desperate bid to remain relevant. It is liked scraped fingers grasping the edge of a cliff, and as someone who cares deeply about the man trying to scramble back up, the sight is too harrowing to watch without feeling queasy. Worse still is buying the newest book from the artist most dear to you and feeling for the first time in most of your life like he cheated you out of 25 dollars.
Jan 07, Sara Zovko rated it really liked it. Ova knjiga je za mene pun pogodak. Duhovito, a istovremeno bolno stvarno i poznato. Sep 21, Jason Pettus rated it really liked it. Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.
I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally. As I've mentioned here before, about the closest I come to being a literal "completist" of a contemporary author's work is probably Douglas Coupland I've now read ten of his thirteen novels, and was a pretty obsessive fan at that when I was younger ; for those who need a refresher, he's the fifty-somethi Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.
As I've mentioned here before, about the closest I come to being a literal "completist" of a contemporary author's work is probably Douglas Coupland I've now read ten of his thirteen novels, and was a pretty obsessive fan at that when I was younger ; for those who need a refresher, he's the fifty-something year-old media expert who originally coined the sociological phrase "Generation X" with his novel, and which ushered in an extra-snarky, extra-pop-culture-laced style of late Postmodernism, which was at first eagerly eaten up by people my age until collectively getting pretty sick of it by the time September 11th rolled around, and which was the direct cause of such Scooby-Doo navel-gazing hacks as Augusten Burroughs and Chuck Klosterman during the nadir of that particular movement.
And now that I've read so much of Coupland, I've come to realize that most of his work essentially fits into one of two molds, although of course with at least a slight overlap in them all: And in fact, I think it's no surprise that his most popular novel to date, 's dot-com story Microserfs , is an ingenious and almost equal blend of the real and surreal, a balance I wish he would find in all the books he writes. Examples of the former might include his original Generation X , 's All Families Are Psychotic , and 's surprisingly sad look at the crushing defeats that come with middle-age, The Gum Thief which I've also reviewed here in the past ; while the latter would definitely include 's Girlfriend in a Coma which ends with literally only six people still left on the planet , 's Miss Wyoming in which a former child star miraculously survives a plane crash without anyone knowing, and ends up living in hiding for a year with a stranger she randomly meets one day , and now his latest, the head-scratchingly controversial Generation A , which since coming out last year has garnered an amount of polar-opposite reactions unusual for even him, with everyone who's now read it seemingly either loving or hating it, and hardly anybody ever saying merely "meh.
Because to be clear, this is a strange story you're entering when you pick up this book, perhaps one of the stranger ones now of Coupland's entire career; set just a few years after our own times, it posits a world where the planet's population of bees has died out for unknown reasons, which through a snowballing chain of reactions has affected the population of other insects, which in turn has caused mass pollination problems, which itself has caused a global food crisis, as well as a growing amount of environmental disasters.
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And it'd be one thing if this remained the case throughout, but near the end Coupland actually offers up an explanation for why these five characters all seem so similar to each other, which I'll let remain a secret but that does beg two questions: This of course is the problem with writing metaphorical fairytales, and why they're trickier to pull off than more realistic storylines -- that since you're deliberately relying on elements that sometimes make no rational sense in the physical world, it requires a much bigger suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader, a much bigger allowance for "artistic license" than some audience members are willing to give.
To truly enjoy a novel like this, you have to be willing to cede these things, to admit for example that such stories could never be made up on the spot but that Coupland is trying to accomplish something grander by including them, or else otherwise, much like an eight-year-old watching "Road Runner" cartoons, you're going to spend the entire length of the novel grimacing and angrily shouting, "Oh, right, I'm so sure! View all 4 comments. Douglas Coupland's Generation A sees a not-too-distant world of ours devoid of bees and therefore things like fruit and flowers.
A strange drug called Solon is sweeping the planet, it's effects rendering the user carefree and unafraid of the future with a deep inner peace that stops them interacting with other humans and makes them seek solitude. Highly addictive, the drug is wiping out human creativity as well as the bees. Five people, seemingly random, across the planet are stung by bees. They Douglas Coupland's Generation A sees a not-too-distant world of ours devoid of bees and therefore things like fruit and flowers.
They are suddenly whisked away for testing and become instant global celebrities. Shortly after being released back into the world they are recaptured and taken to a remote island off the coast of Canada and made to tell stories, the idea being something in the telling of stories releases a protein into their blood and the mixture could become a cure for Solon. Well, damn the negative reviews, because I loved it! Generation A mixes two of Coupland's strengths - his humour, like in Microserfs and jPod, and his humanity, like in Eleanor Rigby - together with his semi-realistic visions of futuristic society.
The result is his best book to date. If you've read Coupland before you'll know his love of employing gimmicks into his stories.
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The reams of numbers in jPod showing pi or the novel within a novel in The Gum Thief or the new dictionary slang of Generation X; in Generation A, the second half is taken up by short stories told by the characters. While this might irritate some readers short stories are notoriously niche let me tell you that the stories are brilliant. They not only fit into the themes of the book but are also great stories to be enjoyed for the sake of stories. I won't go into too much analysis here but what I got from Coupland was his message of humans telling stories to humans is essentially what makes us human.
While Solon so alone? The overall message is of stories and company and how this is the only antidote to the growing isolation of humans as a result of the tidal wave of technology. Read without any subtext, the book is a joy for the reader and a masterclass in writing from Coupland. The swift pacing is kept up throughout and the world he portrays, while different, retains an eerie sense of familiarity.
Generation A is accessible for new readers and old and while Coupland has his ups and downs to be expected from a writer whose approaches and ideas towards fiction changes from one book to the next this is most certainly a brilliant novel and easily one of his best. Amazing stuff, highly recommended. Oct 12, Darrell Reimer rated it did not like it.
I read that and figured if Douglas Coupland was returning, in some manner, to the book that inflated him into what he is now, I was keen to read the by-product. I don't usually mark up my books, but three pages into Generation A I felt compelled to take the lid off my Roller-Ball and write, neatly, in the margin: Unfortunately my mood only got worse. The proper thing to do is review the book that was written, and not the book I wish was written. I picked up Gen A wondering what had happened to those characters I related so strongly to in Did they finally plug in?
Were any of them in a family way? Were they maybe not quite so nervous, smart and medicated? How had they or characters similar to them navigated the last 18 years? Now that they, in all likelihood, had the mortgages etc. Let's call this fictional exercise "Coupland channels Updike " — wouldn't that be cool? That's not the book I've got. And I'm realizing, as I finally put this novel to rest, that I'm at a point where I very much prefer Coupland's interviews and non-fiction to his fiction. He's a clever guy, frequently witty and prescient.
But he struggles to plumb depth of character, and his fiction just ain't working for me anymore. Coupland is far from his best here, patching together a cast of forgettable characters that mostly feel as simple narrative devices in an otherwise unplausible plot. Yes, yes, the social critique, the observation and bla bla bla, but a novel is supposed to deliver characters and plot as well as background, and "Generation A" fails at the former. The story follows five twentysomethings from all over the world, living in a not-so-distant future where bees are extinct, fruits have all but disappeare Coupland is far from his best here, patching together a cast of forgettable characters that mostly feel as simple narrative devices in an otherwise unplausible plot.
The story follows five twentysomethings from all over the world, living in a not-so-distant future where bees are extinct, fruits have all but disappeared, and life is pretty boring. The older generation is longing for a disappeared past including YouTube, which apparently required bees and fruits in order to run , and people survive on hi-tech antidepressants.
When the five are suddenly stung by reborn bees, they are quickly "interned" and exhamined by the authorities, then briefly released and eventually led to a remote island in order to tell each other new stories and encounter their fate thanks to a couple of unplausible deus ex-machina including the almighty Google. Of the five eventually six characters, three are mostly caricatures; the lonely Tourette-suffering spinster, the lonely hepburn-ish NewZealander and the lonely alienated gamer are little more than you guessed it lonely figures with nothing much to say or do.
It gets a bit better with the wasted American hunk and the clever call-center worker from India, albeit the points about them are hammered into the reader with unseen brutality "they all think the Indian guy is stupid, but he's clever! One senses that Coupland would have wanted to write the entire novel from the Indian point of view, but chickened out and rightly so, in my humble opinion and had to go back to his classic anglo-pop settings, where he's more confident. The bad guy is from Europe, he's arrogant, works for Big Pharma, and gives Alan Rickman another job opportunity.
This said, there are a couple of good moments: All considered, this book is not pulp, but it's hardly the stuff of dreams. Apr 04, Lindsey rated it liked it Shelves: Though it had been a while since I read Coupland I recognized all the familiar touches within the first few pages. The narrators are young and savvy but jaded characters, seemingly remote from one another but clearly sharing a destiny within the framework of the novel. The setting is classic dystopia with the most modern flourishes; it's definitely the first novel I've read that mentions YouTube, for better or worse.
There's that distrust of science, of corporate greed, of governmental authority Though it had been a while since I read Coupland I recognized all the familiar touches within the first few pages. There's that distrust of science, of corporate greed, of governmental authority so characteristic in his body of work. So what, then, makes Generation A different? For me, it wasn't actually the writing itself that I found compelling, but rather certain ideas about technology, human interconnectedness, and the power of storytelling that it explores. Through the first part of the novel, we see five disparate characters come together after having been stung by bees, previously thought to be extinct.
They are brought to a secluded cabin and instructed to tell each other stories as part of an extended experiment, and while baffled, they jump right in, each of their inventions as cynical as the characters themselves. The half of the book in which they trade these tales seems a little slap-dash compared to the smooth unfurling of plot before it, which gently overlaps the experiences of each narrator. The stories read like half-baked ideas Coupland rejected in the past but didn't want to entirely abandon, and threw into this novel as a way to somehow justify not having done so.
But it is not only Coupland's ability to capture what it means to be alive today, having grown up in the shadows of clinical depression and impending environmental doom; connected more than ever by technology and social media yet still somehow detached from one another - but also his willingness to weave hope throughout what is sometimes seen as a very bleak outlook, makes his voice important yet again for another generation of readers. Nov 09, Trin rated it it was ok Shelves: This book starts out really strongly and made me think I was fortunate enough to be reading an example of Coupland at the top of his game.
He introduces five different narrators, each of whom has been stung by a thought-to-be-extinct honeybee, and the story of how they all come together is quirky and fun. However, once all five do land together in the same tiny town, the novel completely disintegrates. But there were no real revelations. But Generation A was a relatively empty experience for me.
And that does sting. Jan 22, Loredana Bookinista08 rated it it was amazing Shelves: A very cleverly built book, I loved it! It was a pleasure to read from beginning to end and I really marveled at Coupland's ideas: His view of humankind's future is a little scary but it also pushes one to think beyond one's safe zone: Once again, Coupland was a master. Can't wait to read his next books! Jan 16, Nate rated it it was amazing Shelves: I'm coming back to this book somewhere around 2 years and 10 months after I finished it. I made special note of it because, by Goodreads standards, it has the lowest average score of all books on my "favorites" shelf, which is, to be fair, considerably light.
Score coming in at time of review as 3. Five people get stung by bees. Bees are thought to be extinct in this roughly version of the world. There's a drug that m I'm coming back to this book somewhere around 2 years and 10 months after I finished it. There's a drug that makes time go by faster that everybody's on. Anyway these five twerps get whisked away to tell stories to one another. All the stories kind of build off each other and borrow similar characters and it turns out that going to the Canadian wilderness to tell stories about aliens and superman and the disintegration of language is not actually just a way to be meta but is kind of conspiracy theory-y and drug related.
I was sort of reclaiming my love of reading, largely channeling Douglas Coupland, at the time of reading this book. Honestly I didn't really want to "expand my horizons. I think I have four Coupland books in my favorites list. A list that is constantly checked and revisited. In short, I'm unabashedly biased toward Doug. Why this book is actually good despite admitted bias: Look it's branded Coupland in that there's a scene that tests the characters reactions to brandless furniture.
They're from all over the world but they all have that same Coupland voice. Yet Doug never writes beyond himself. Does that make sense? He knows what he wants his future and book to be. Imagine if Doug were a fantasy writer or a straight sci-fi writer. Imagine that Coupland books themselves are a genre. They're not out to replicate the world but to kind of re-use the ephemera that inhabits our current world and re-organize it into a world that's more suitable to his fiction.
Generation A by Douglas Coupland
Not dissimiliar, but totally different in feel of worlds to what George Saunders does. The book is ultimately about storytelling. Storytelling as a function of humanity. Isn't that what all dystopia is about? Even if it's only over the proverbial ridge of the present. There's that normal pop-culture armchair philosophizing ever permeating Couplandia, but that's a function of the world, not an intrusion on it. Destruction of narrative and the "inner voice" metaphor-ized all too often as the Channel 3 News Team. In typical Coupland fashion the plot is kind of shrugged off, but it ties in to the quality of non-narritveness.
Everyone kind of strives for inaction, ultimately in the shape of the drug Solon. Solon is that kind of drug you get after a full eight hour day of reading, except the "Craigs" of Couplandia are just out for the end result, skipping all the plot and action of the story for that special buzz. I like the book because it's that special one author genre I like.
To talk about this book is really to talk about Coupland and his ethos on writing he comes from art school, where high and low culture truly have no separation as opposed to literature, even postmodernism still has some avant garde bones to pick with how pop-culture-y you can get bla bla bla. For sheer innovation and creating verisimilitude of a world without bees and taking our celebrity, drug-obsessed culture a bit farther on the continuum I love this book.
I'm a sucker from those points on. Anything left is just bonus. I wouldn't consider this Coupland's best, but I was drawn in immediately and stayed up past my bedtime several nights in a row in order to finish. It's been several years since I last read Generation X , which this book is supposed to parallel, so forgive me if I make or miss overly obvious comparisons between the two.
Oh fiction, how do I even talk about you anymore? I feel like Coupland's earlier work often focused on how our increasingly mediated and culture-saturated lives made us both isola I wouldn't consider this Coupland's best, but I was drawn in immediately and stayed up past my bedtime several nights in a row in order to finish. I feel like Coupland's earlier work often focused on how our increasingly mediated and culture-saturated lives made us both isolated and connected. When I read Microserfs for the first time 13 years ago, this was a revelation.
Now it seems passe - for both me and for the characters of Generation A. A mediated, culture-saturated life is a given. What cannot be assumed any longer is real human connection, or the sense-making that takes place when stories are told. At first it felt a little ridiculous, but by the end I was drawn in. I don't know if this makes any sense, but that's sort of how Generation A made me feel - a little confused, a little connected, a little unsure of where my story fits with the rest of my world.
Jun 07, Ben Babcock rated it liked it Shelves: I've had Generation A sitting on my shelf since Christmas and feel vaguely guilty that I did not read it sooner. On the other hand, now I've gone and read it in a single day, so I kind of wish I had prolonged the experience. Douglas Coupland is one of those authors whose books are a pleasure to read and experience. He is very aware of the nature of his medium which, some might say, is also the message , and he likes to play with the structure of his novel and his text. In earlier books, this of I've had Generation A sitting on my shelf since Christmas and feel vaguely guilty that I did not read it sooner.
In earlier books, this often resulted in some very bizarre departures like JPod 's pages of random words or digits of pi from a traditional linear narrative. Recently, Coupland has used stories-within-the story like in The Gum Thief to emphasize his points. Although Generation A is somewhat less meta-fictional than previous novels, it nevertheless deals with many of the same motifs.
So bees are extinct, which is a problem, because now any plants that relied on bees for pollination must be hand-pollinated or will also go extinct. The bee extinction is just the first in a chain of crop shortages, and judging from the other tidbits that Coupland throws us, it's not the only part of the environment that has gone haywire. With a single act, Coupland has introduced a striking sense of difference between the real world and the one in which Generation A takes place. This is important for any science fiction novel, and it also reinforces the environmental themes that run through many of Coupland's works.
Generation A turns the world sideways just enough for you to look critically at things that do exist, like our growing dependence on mobile communications, our continuously evolving languages, and environmental change. Generation A is not about a generation so much as it is about the divide or, to be more nuanced, the continuum between successive generations. Children today grow up with their brains wired to interact with technology in a way that previous generations never did.
More importantly, technology always has a large impact on culture and language. What has the Internet done to the cult of celebrity? How is our increasing dependence on mobile technology affecting language? These are questions that many have already asked and attempted to answer. However, Coupland tackles them from the perspective of storytelling, that attribute so human as to be overlooked.
What does storytelling do to our brains, and what does technology's effect on language mean for that? As with his previous novels, Coupland uses multiple first-person perspectives and stories-within-the-story to give us a candid and frank presentation of his themes. You can criticize his characters for being flat, and you'd be right. Yet that doesn't bother me, because I always see his characters as symbolic, metaphors for certain types of people rather than actual people. Zack is the creative kid who lacks direction; Julien is unchallenged somewhat neglected by his parents; Sam is drifting because she has yet to make a real connection with someone; Diana is the frustrated, middle-aged woman who wishes she could re-invent herself; Harj idealizes a foreign culture because he finds his own society too depressing.
Who is Generation A? | tevopaleqopi.tk
Just as the stories-within-the-story are obviously allegories of each character's experiences, despite Serge's stipulation that he didn't want anecdotes, Generation A is a broader allegory for contemporary society. Sure, Coupland could be more subtle in his approach. But part of his appeal for me is how baldly he states truths about society's latent expectations. Coupland captures what we have internalized about society and expresses it with the wit we wish we had. For example, he says, ""Books turn people into isolated individuals, and once that's happened, the road only grows rockier.
One thing that struck me as new to Generation A was an emphasis on empathy as a defining trait of humanity. Reminiscent of Philip K. Dick, Coupland often portrays characters who display a lack of empathy especially for animals as less authentic human beings than those who do. In particular, Diana is still distraught over an episode she witnessed where a man killed a dog with his car, and the minister of her church refuses to condemn it because the dog lacks a soul, so "it's not a sin.
And really, what is storytelling but a search for empathy? Stories are our attempts to communicate who we are, to show others our perspective on the world. Although they can also be meant to entertain, they fulfil this function only by dint of being comprehensible, consisting of a shared language and enough shared experiences—enough empathy—to create common ground.
I'm ignoring the environmental themes, mostly because they're the same as they were in Coupland's other novels, and the literary and cultural aspects of Generation A are far more interesting. Although I stand by my advice not to take the book too literally, the ending disappointed me. It was abrupt and unsatisfactory, leaving me with too many loose ends after a very tense climax. As much as I enjoyed the themes behind the work, Generation A as a narrative leaves a lot to be desired. This is a story about stories and experiences, set against the backdrop of a planet where humanity might just have lost sight of the fact that we aren't the Most Important Species Ever.
Through the interactions of his five main characters and the somewhat entertaining stories they construct, Coupland exposes some of the interesting changes occurring in our society right now as a generation raised on computers and the Internet begins to take over the reins from the generation that invented and propagated that technology. We are always moving forward and can only look backward in attempts to judge what we have gained and what we've lost.
But in order to make such judgements, Coupland reminds us, first we need to get a handle on what we have right now. An interesting premise that left me somewhat hanging in the end. Set sometime in the future, five people in different parts of the world get stung by bees, during a period in which bees have gone extinct due to the proliferation of a drug called Solon that cures human anxiety. So begins their odyssey, when the five characters are immediately quarantined and subjected to a barrage of tests to find out what made them attractive to the bees. Following their release a month later, with no conclusions An interesting premise that left me somewhat hanging in the end.
Following their release a month later, with no conclusions reached, and only having become instant celebrities, they are rounded up again and isolated in a Haida community off the coast of British Columbia and asked to relate stories to keep themselves aloft while more blood samples are taken from them at various times as their impromptu story telling alters their moods.
Ultimately and without giving the plot away the five discover the awful secret of their incarceration through their stories. They escape, but the world still remains the same. Despite this inconclusiveness, the writing is vibrant and funny, the manufactured stories are pure flights of the imagination, and are told like parables by the five while under house arrest.
The stories feed off each other and cover various themes: The only saving grace is that reading and story-telling are espoused. One character finds a copy of Finnegan's Wake and uses it to cure his addiction to gambling. He even starts to make comparisons of Joyce's work and calls Ulysses "a lower priced house brand of Finnegan's Wake. The villain, who is captured by them, tells his own story in similar fashion, giving us the final piece to this puzzle.
I had one peeve. I wished Coupland had done his research better. He bases Qatar in the United Arab Emirates wrong! Having lived in both these countries for many years, I felt a bit annoyed at this obvious faux pas by such an imminent writer. I was also less than enthused with his character Harj, a Sri Lankan call centre worker who talks and acts like an American. Working for an American company in that part of the world and selling to American mid-west customers via the telephone does not impart that type of a persona - sorry Doug!
But, as this is fiction, and just like the parables within the main story, as this novel is set in the future, the novelist has infinite licence to alter names, places, events and reality itself - that is the power and the privilege of the writer. And who are we plebes to dispute that? I think Generation A did a pretty good job of both capturing the irony of the culture of isolation as well as showing us where this isolation can lead us. Unfortunately, I felt that he did a better job of it in his last novel, The Gum Thief.
Generation A follows five people that are stung by bees in a world where bees were thought to be extinct. The first half of the book shows us how everyone is put into isolation for a month, and then it examines their post-sting lives. This is where the novel seems to reach a disconnect. The stories that the characters tell are often funny and read like Kilgore Trout stories, but they feel very removed from the first half of the book.
And all the stories sound like they are told by the same person, not by five individual people from five different countries. In Generation A, they are often explicitly stated in a way feels as if the moral of the story is being spoon fed to the reader, without the cleverness that someone like Vonnegut might have used. The last thirty pages dance a fine line between absurdity and awful.
Coupland fans will be reminded of Girlfriend in a Coma, but without the necessity and urgency of that story. They seemed thinly drawn with a few broad strokes. Solon, a drug that makes time seem to pass faster, is ubiquitous in the world of Generation A. This is the second time or maybe third? There was a passing reference in Eleanor Rigby, but now Solon is its own thematic element and a somewhat confusing one at that. Unfortunately, it contributes to the wacky ending in a strange way. Overall, I felt Coupland could have done a lot better with this story, especially considering the inspiration was from a great quote from a Kurt Vonnegut speech to a graduating class of students, calling them Generation A so that they had plenty of room for the successes and mistakes every other generation had.
He has such a wonderfully dark, bleak sense of humor. This novel, however, was just plain boring--so tedious it put my teeth on edge. Firstly, I'm not sure if Coupland was trying to make a larger social statement through his narrative about humans and their relationship to earth. I don't think so, because that is not what Coupland does If he was, it was a spectacular failure. More importantly, however, the plot and characterization were woeful.
It was difficult to relate to the five main characters in any way at all I couldn't even be bothered summoning the energy to dislike them.
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