What led you to pick up this book? The truth? I was digging through a cabinet in search of Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, which I may or may not own (I just don't remember) and came across The Coma whilst moving a pile to look at double-shelved books. The cover caught my eye because of a post at Jeremy Blachman's blog, which led me to The Book Design Review, where this post made me laugh. The images on the cover of The Coma are indicative of block-print illustrations inside, not silhouettes as shown in the post at The Book Design Review, but the black and white cover grabbed me because I just read the post about silhouette covers, two days ago.
Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending. An attempt to save a girl from having her purse snatched on the Tube ends in a beating that lands Carl in a coma. He eventually wakes to find that things are not quite right. Is he having blackouts? Is he still comatose? Or, is Carl simply dreaming?
What did you like most about the book? It was surreal and mind-bending without falling into total incomprehensibility.
What did you think of the characters? Carl seems incredibly logical for a fellow who is attempting to reason out whether he's actually conscious or not. I liked him for his logic and his willingness to stand up to help someone when he was clearly outnumbered. The rest of the characters were dubious, as the reader didn't know for certain whether they were real or figments of his imagination.
Share a favorite scene from the book: I liked the point at which Carl decided that if he was comatose he could wake himself up with music or books, but he couldn't remember the right lyrics and the books contained only a few words. Here's an excerpt:
"Tough. That's all there is. But no problem, we'll move on to The Catcher in the Rye." I cleared my throat. 'Pretty phoney,' said Holden Caulfield. The End.' "
"Sir . . . " said the girl.
"Wait. I haven't gotten to Austen yet. 'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in want of a woman is a man in need of things that a woman with needs can want to universally acknowledge.' " I closed the book with a snap. "It goes on in a similar vein for another three-hundred-odd pages. It makes you wonder why they teach it at school, don't you think?"
In general: Totally bizarre fun. Once I picked it up, I couldn't bear to set the book down till I'd finished it; and, fortunately, it was also an extremely fast-paced read. But, I do wish I hadn't begun reading the book at 11pm. Such things make a girl's head throb.