I suspect I read this at just the right time. The characters are not necessarily different from Coupland's other works. And yet, the novel buried in this novel is different from Coupland's other work. There is an absurdity there that doesn't exist in the main storyline (a basic plot of disaffected youth, middle-aged angst, and life at Staples).
But I think the real accomplishment here is the structure of the novel. We have a novel in diary form that also includes a novel in it. The fact that the characters in the diary-novel are just as compelling as the main characters is a testament to Coupland's skill. I was compelled by this book and find myself still contemplating the way it is put together. That may not excite some people, but as a writer I can't help but obsess over the structural marvel. This whole book could have fallen apart in the hands of a less skilled writer.