The Coma by Alex Garland

The Coma

After being attacked on the Underground, Carl awakens from a coma to a life that seems strange and unfamiliar. He arrives at his friends' house without knowing how he got there. Nor do they. He seems to be having an affair with his secretary which is exciting, but unlikely. Further unsettled by leaps in logic and time, Carl wonders if he's actually reacting to the outside world, or if he's terribly mistaken. So begins a psychological adventure th...

Details The Coma

TitleThe Coma
Release DateJul 7th, 2005
PublisherFaber & Faber
GenreFiction, Mystery, Horror, Contemporary, Thriller

Reviews The Coma

  • Kevin Kelsey
    An odd little eerie novella. I really enjoyed it. His descriptions of the dream-state are some of the most accurate I've ever read.
  • Sam Quixote
    I remember reading The Coma when it first came out some 10 years-ish ago, flying through it in a day and dismissing it as “eh, dream story, got it”. I’m glad I came back and re-read it and thought about it more afterwards as there’s a lot more to it than that (and understanding what I read, rather than chalking it up as another book down, is the whole point of why I write reviews anyway). Carl is in the office making notes on papers late ...
  • Fabian
    As modern writers go, this one has the career I covet and an incredible repertoire--he has been compared to Graham Greene. Well, this is the WRITER OF MY GENERATION (or Gen x, whatev), and therefore, it's Mr. Greene who should consider himself fortunate. (Forgive the hyperbole...)For a book that requires no bookmark, this one is a must. Like a riveting film, one of the best ones out there that you probably never got to see in the theater and swee...
  • karen
    this book was the perfect length for one queens-manhattan/manhattan-queens subway ride on a sunday shopping spree. sibilant, no?im more taken with that fact than the actual content of the book. i enjoyed it, but marabou stork nightmares is way, way better.
  • Maciek
    Alex Garland is the author of The Beach, a real tour de force set on a remote island in Thailand. The Beach is an awesome debut novel, and one which I read in two sittings in two days - I could barely tear myself away from it, from beginning to end. Garland's second novel, The Tesseract, was very different - much more conceptual and experimental, and unfortunately nowhere near as successful (though the blurb states that J.G. Ballard was a big fan...
  • Trish
    I think this is maybe what happened after someone dared Alex Garland to write a novel of exactly 200 pages featuring chrysanthemums, fresh milk, bandages, a temple, a cab driver, and a nurse. Go! It's not that it's bad, it's just that it isn't much. The narrator is in a coma, and the reader experiences all of his delusions, dreams, fractured memories, and efforts to awaken. The end.
  • Nate D
    I should really have read this when it came out 12 years back and I was into Garland's The Beach and The Tesseract, as this is much better than either of those. Quick enough to read entirely in a book shop over lunch break (drawn in by the eerie woodcuts that illustrate it), but the spare elegance conveys quite a lot of philosophic weight to mull over. A haunting suggestion of the loneliness of any single, inescapably solitary consciousness, in a...
  • Emm - Stories for Ghouls
    "When we wake, we die."That's a lot of trip for such a short novel.Coma is a really ambitious story, but when it starts to unravel towards the end, it gets a bit confusing, and I will never be sure what the ending meant.Is it still a good read? Yeah, of course. For the kind of book this is, not answering some of the questions directly and leaving you to make your own conclusions, I think was a better choice.It does keep you hooked in, even if onl...
  • Melissa Chung
    First of all this book is strange. Second I loved every moment of it.This book is about a man named Carl who takes a subway home and while on the tube gets attacked and is now in a coma. The whole book is Carl in his dreamlike coma state. Figuring out where he is and what is going on. He is trying to figure out how to wake up.The book is broken up into 3 parts and each part he comes closer and farther away from consciousness. Each chapter has an ...
  • Jacki
    I sat down and read this all in one sitting this morning.Because of the situation (narrator in a coma, struggling to get out), it was pretty well impossible to get a good grip on who the narrator is/what is life is about... but in that it's easy to lose yourself to this novel & imagine yourself in that situation. He's searching for things within his memory that will spark him, shake him free of this coma, and he struggles with his inability to re...
  • Jaksen
    So-so short novel.The story of a fellow who falls into a coma after being beaten on a bus. (Or is it the subway? Or are they the same thing? Confession: I haven't ridden a bus since I took a group of students on a field trip in 2009; never ridden public transport; never taken the subway or whatever it's called these days; and only been in a taxi twice, both in 1994. Yes, I am a hermit.)Anyhow the story's about how he's in this sort of netherworld...
  • Patrick Sherriff
    This book has been sitting, unread, on my shelves since I bought it in 2004 from a Tesco's supermarket in Derby. But I'm glad I kept it alive, faintly, in my memory all this time. The story is quite lyrical and easy to follow and the 40 woodcuts Garland's father made to illustrate each scene add to rather than detract from the experience. And it's quite a haunting experience. On one level a simple mystery of lost identity, it's also much more tha...
  • Oceana2602
    The Coma was on the bargain table at Chapters when it caught my eye. Alex Garland, I said to myself. Isn't that the guy who wrote The Beach? Yes, he is.I read The Beach long before it was made into a movie with the unspeakable Leonardo DiCaprio (which I've never seen), and I was fascinated. I recognized the society Garland creates in The Beach in so many ways, it was scary and uncomfortable and utterly fascinating. I haven't yet have the guts to ...
  • Chris Dietzel
    I'm a huge fan of the screenplays Garland has written--'Ex Machina' was excellent and 'Sunshine' is one of the most underrated sci fi films I can think of--but this was the first book of his that I've read. It was an easy read with an interesting premise. While it wasn't nearly as captivating as the movies he is associated with, it was well executed and a fast read. I would definitely read more of his stuff in the future.
  • Nathan
    Garland's first book The Beach is truly one of my favorite books. Maybe I happened to read it at the exact right moment in my own existence, but I connected to it on a deep level, and I found it to be not only thrilling, but quite moving. I managed to miss his second novel, but after the total mess that they made of the theatrical version of The Beach, I loved 28 Days Later, so I was excited the day I picked this book up, and in the first moments...
  • Chana
    This is one of those dream stories where reality is vague at best. There is a sense of dread in this book that, at least in part, comes from the very fine woodcuts made by the author's father. I was wondering which came first, the woodcuts or this novel. I suspect the woodcuts. I was waiting for illumination while I read this book and it never arrived, to my disappointment. Maybe others will understand this book, I hope so.
  • Mobyskine
    Fast-paced, could finish in one go. Love the plot-- excellent writing depicting a dreamland journey of comatose. Bizarre but interesting, weird and unusual. Playing with logic, an unknown parallel and one's subconcious mind. Think it was brilliant. How Carl realised he was in the state of coma but still 'flying' all over settling the unsettled or perhaps some needs. Love the part when he met the cabby again and went back to his old house. Short c...
  • Laura
    From BBC Radio 4:A young man is attacked on a train late one night and knocked unconscious. Tom Goodman-Hill reads Alex Garland's novel.
  • Mahdie
    You wake you die
  • erica
    An interesting, and very short, read, but this book isn't going to be one that sticks with me.
  • Stacy
    The Coma, written by Alex Garland (the 'mastermind' behind the novel The Beach, as well as the films 28 Days Later and Sunshine) presents a straightforward story: a man finds himself trapped in a dreamworld after being put in a coma, and struggles to regain his memory in order to wake up.This "man," whose true identity even he is unsure about, is Carl. His experience begins as a series of scenes in which he seems to awake, all of a sudden somepla...
  • Ernest Junius
    The premise of the book is obviously very interesting—dark, surreal, and necromantic. Combined with the words of praise from Kazuo Ishiguro on the back cover and the fact that it was a "Guardian Books of the Year" making it all more and more an enticing read.The book simply tells a story about a person in a coma—you might be able to guess that from the title, and what's different is that this book is utilising creepy woodblock illustration fr...
  • Justin Hudnall
    It must be difficult for Alex Garland to see the majority of praise for this book pertain to "how fast of a read it was." This point is even emblazoned right across the back of the jacket, just in case people fail to notice how slim the book is. What I wished Garland was being praised for is his really masterful ability to write sparsely, with complete lack of jazz-fingers or indulging the impulse to elaborate a subject to death. Hell, give him c...
  • Dougal
    This book is a wonderful tale of the unconscious. It explores a world of unconscious dreaming that is beautifully gentle in the way it slowly reveals something of the character of the narrator, and something about all of us. The black and white woodcuts, by Nicholas Garland, perfectly illustrate this short story.The edition I read was the paperback, with a separate dustcover. It was a delight to hold; there was something about the binding, the te...
  • Gareth
    A thought-provoking tale on the nature of coma, dreaming and their relation to the waking state and notions of personal identity. Very nicely written in a simple, sparse style, which, along with Garland's father's beautiful and atmospheric woodcuts, creates both tension and dreamlike disjointedness.For those who finish the book with slight bewilderment or dissatisfaction, let me just give you a clue (the same that someone was kind enough to give ...
  • Jo Brace
    In my opinion, it was the perfect little tale, taking into consideration the subject matter. You read as if you are in the coma with him, battling to wake, feeling the despair. If the story were any longer, it would get tiresome to read very quickly. There is only so much comatose thinking one can take.
  • Tanja
    Well, that was a strange, little book...
  • Guy Salvidge
    Oh dear, this simply isn't very good. I'm not against dream narratives. Some good ones that I can think of are Kim Stanley Robinson's A Short Sharp Shock, Iain Banks' The Bridge and Christopher Priest's The Dream Archipelago. The Coma, however, manages to be both very brief and rather verbose. A slim volume like this one ought to be packed full of memorable snippets and fragments of description and conversation. What we have instead is a meanderi...
  • Rita Zanola
    Este libro lo leí hace mucho tiempo y me encantó. Lo presté y nunca lo volví a encontrar, ni siquiera en digital. Es muuuy bueno!
  • Kristine R.
    2019 Popsugar Reading Challenge - A book with no chapters/unusual chapter headings/unconventionally numbered chapters