Book Club – Station Eleven Review

And of course before we get to the review and spoilers below…I will reveal the next book!

big magic

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book is Gilbert’s first foray into the ‘self help’ genre, and this year I’ve been enjoying books of this ilk. You may have read her best seller Eat Pray Love – this is nothing like that. The book’s tagline is “Creative Living Beyond Fear”. I confess I’ve already started reading my copy and it’s part the author’s personal philosophies and ideas about how her creativity manifests itself, and part positive talk / lecture about how to break free from doubt and make creativity happen.

The fact that you are even reading my blog suggests that you probably are already a person who enjoys undertaking creative pursuits, so you might find some great concepts and ideas in Big Magic.

Buy the kindle version here        Buy the audiobook here

Station Eleven – Review

station 11

I really should start making notes in a draft blog post while reading my book club books. I’m sure I’m going to forget a few things because I finished reading this over 3 weeks ago! Here goes:

  • For me, the interest in this book was not about the characters, but what a possible post-pandemic world would look like.
  • In the dystopian / apocalyptic genre, this story line is the most plausible I’ve read. The possible reality of it really freaked me out.
  • Given the 99% death rate of the Georgia flu, it was odd that so many people connected to Arthur survived. But that’s just me being nit-picky.
  • Speaking of being nit-picky, when discussing this book amongst friends, everyone had opinions of “well, this couldn’t happen” or “that didn’t seem right” etc etc. I actually think the author did a great job of reigning in her story – there was SO MANY possible tangents she could have followed but she kept the story pretty tight.
  • In moments of this book, I felt like a world without internet would be kind of a relief.
  • I felt frustrated that the first two years post collapse didn’t make the story, but the sheer volume of death would have possibly been too difficult for the author to incorporate.
  • It was interesting to consider what people deemed important in their post collapse lives.
  • I thought the twist of Arthur’s son becoming the crazy cult leader was good – I didn’t see it coming.
  • The character of Clark grew on me. I liked how without the social constraints of having to operate in the corporate world, the collapse gave him the opportunity to return to his true self.
  • I found Kirsten a bit sad – she had such a hard edge, and through her character you could tell that the author thought compassion and connection with others was a luxury in the post collapse world.

Overall, this book kept me hooked and I thought the ending was great. Would love a sequel or parallel story.

Three and a half stars!

Over to you. What did you think. Highlights, lowlights?

10 thoughts on “Book Club – Station Eleven Review

  1. I loved this! If I had read the blurb, I don’t think I would have read it, not really my type of thing, but it was very well written and easy to read and gave me lots to think about. The way it all happens is so plausible…quite scary really! I do wonder where all the ‘smart’ people are though…the ones who would be able to rig up generators etc and all the things that they are struggling without. I’m surprised it would take 20 years for them to get to electricity again. If I have to complain about something, I would’ve liked to read more about Jeevan’s story. And I was hoping he would reconnect with Kirsten. Plenty of room left for a sequel! I think it would make a great movie too!

    1. Yes I did wonder about the ‘smart people’ too – no one seemed to bring any past skills into their post collapse lives (apart from Jeevan in a pretty minimal way.) I’d be interested to read other books that are similar. A couple of recommendations that popped up on Goodreads are After The Apocalypse by Maureen McHugh and Wasteland by Antony Johnston.

  2. Your review makes me want to read the book. I read the first two pages on the amazon website and the words seem to flow easily, making it easy to read, too.

    1. It was a really easy read! I finished it over a weekend, which is quite quick for me. I recommend it!

  3. Another great recommendation Ros. And a book that I probably would never have chosen myself! Here are a few of my thoughts:
    – I got frustrated at the beginning, when it kept jumping to different people. I really just wanted more of each character’s journey first.
    – I spent a lot of my time, whilst reading, trying to make connections between the characters! And I can still remember the moment when one of the major connections was made – cos I sent you a photo!!!
    – I figured out who the crazy cult leader was pretty early on, so was hi-fiving myself for that!

    All in all, a really enjoyable read. And I totally agree – would love a sequel or similar 🙂

    ps. I hate to be a debbie downer, but I just aint a self help book kind of gal xxx

    1. Hey Debbie 😉 I know what you mean about jumping from character to character – it takes you longer to get to know them all and settle into the story.

      About a year ago I felt the same way about the ‘self help’ genre. I was skeptical and I’m not into the whole Tony Robbins RAH RAH RAH style thing. BUT then after seeing a lot of great reviews and suggestions from a couple of my fave book bloggers, I read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. I devoured it and I have to say it was a game changer for me. I’m pretty picky about what I read from this genre, and I would also say that despite the ‘self help’ tag, the books I like are more about practical things you can do to foster personal enjoyment, better relationships, work life balance etc. I would also suggest that I am in a time of change where these books have helped me focus on some things I’ve needed to do to prepare for our move and also move on from some negativity I was feeling about my stay at home parent role. I am generally an organised person but sometimes I can fall in a slump and these kind of books help give me the positive motivation I need to get myself out.

      I’m almost finished Big Magic and as a creative person I’ve really enjoyed the book for the perspective of combining regular life/ family/ paid jobs and your creativity. I’ve nodded along with lots of the things she talks about in the book.

      Another option is that she has a podcast (also called Big Magic) that you can check out and see if you like, she talks about lots of the topics covered in the book.

      xxR

  4. “Of all of them there at the bar that night, the bartender was the one who survived the longest. He died three weeks later on the road out of the city.” This was the exact point that I fell in love with Station Eleven! I had a notion that the book was post-apocalyptic, but was so wrapped up in the story of Arthur during the first two chapters that I had totally forgotten. So this perfectly timed sentence sent a shiver down my spine. This book was beautifully written – the way she drip fed information at just the right pace; enough detail to give you a scenario to consider or imagine, without a full description of the horror (eg the Air Gradia flight) – it’s been a while since I’ve read a book where I hadn’t been irritated by some clichéd lines or eye-rolling situations.

    Like Ros, I think I was more taken with the “new world” than the characters. I found myself wondering what the author’s inspiration had been – was she perhaps stranded in an airport for longer than is comfortable at some point? Some of the detail at that location must surely have come from experience! For me this book was extremely interesting, insightful, with exactly the right level of intrigue and suspense, and a subtle horror that went on inside your head and heart, rather than on the page.

    Like Ms Midge, when I saw that the next book was of the self-help genre I immediately thought “not for me, thanks!”. But then I realised that I’d initially thought that about the first two books too, and ended up thoroughly enjoying both of them. Also, I was listening to an interview on the radio recently without knowing who the interviewee was and thought she was funny, interesting and made some excellent points. I was flabbergasted when I realised it was Elizabeth Gilbert – but then I suppose I was guilty of forming my opinion of her purely from the movie version of Eat Pray Love! So I’m going to give this one a go too. Thanks Ros for taking me out of my way-too-comfortable comfort zone!

    1. Ugh yes the movie version of Eat Pray Love…terrible. It’s been several years since I’ve read that book and I’m interested to go back and read it again. Might be a good holiday read.

      I agree that the book was a great pace. The Air Gradia flight was such a great addition to the novel. The hint of the horror and reality of the Georgia flu just innocently sitting out there on the tarmac like a vault. *shudders* She mentions nothing about what happens inside the plane so that is just left to your own imagination.

      This morning I listened to a great review of this book on the Slate Audio Book Club podcast. It was really good and I’d recommend it. It’s here: http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/the_audio_book_club/2015/07/emily_st_john_mandel_s_station_eleven_book_club_and_discussion.html

      Looking forward to hearing what you think of Big Magic!

  5. I’m behind as I was waiting for it to be in at the library, so only finished it last night.
    I really loved the book. It made me want to keep on reading until the end.
    I would love a sequel, or a book about what happened in the first year. I would have like a bit more story about Jeevan, and the one thing I did wonder about was where were they getting water from once the taps stopped running.
    I had to stop thinking about the book once I’d finished reading though as I started to think about how it’s not such an unrealistic possibility, it could happen, and I kept wondering how I would cope.

    1. Sorry for the late reply Jodie, I’ve been on holiday in New Zealand. Yes I wondered too about what would happen in my reality if something like that happened in real life. Scary to think about! I’m glad you enjoyed the book, hope you like Big Magic – I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to reviewing it!

Leave a Reply