The Seasonal Reading Challenge discussion

GROUP READS > Station Eleven

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message 1: by SRC Moderator (new)

SRC Moderator | 4348 comments Mod
This is the discussion thread for the Summer 2017 Group Read Station Eleven. Please post your comments here. This thread is not restricted to those choosing this book for task 20.10, feel free to join in the discussion. Warning- spoilers ahead!

The requirement for task 20.10: You must participate in the book's discussion thread below with at least one post about the contents of the book or your reaction to the book after you have read the book.

message 2: by Marie (UK) (new)

Marie (UK) (mazza1) | 2413 comments It has taken some effort to finish this book, which i found very pedestrian. The first pages caught my interest and the plot of a killer flu and subsequent dystopian society was interesting. However the rest was just a series of events I expected tension and perhaps intrigue but got neither.

message 3: by Marina H (last edited Jun 09, 2017 12:10PM) (new)

Marina H | 428 comments I had high expectations when starting this book and it started out really good and I was intrigued, but then it jumped forward in time and it slowed the story too much after my opinion.
I like the idea behind the book but because the book jumped so much in time and from character to character it felt a little incoherent.

message 4: by Bianca (last edited Jun 11, 2017 05:26AM) (new)

Bianca Rose (biancarose) | 249 comments Readerboard name: witchygal

I really enjoyed this book. I walked in with fairly low expectations for no real reason, but I ended up really liking the book. In this context, I like the fact that there are so many characters and descriptions of them area a bit vague. I felt like it helped me get into the post apocalyptic mindset where people are changed by their experiences and priorities have been shifted. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the modern era and post Georgian fly society. I got a little bit of a surprise from the twist too which I always appreciate. Overall, I would recommend to others and glad that I've read it!

message 5: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 3612 comments This was a re-read for me.... I listened to the audio previously. This time I read the text and I caught many more clues to the relationships between characters... of course, knowing the outcome helps as well.

Part of my review:
In general I am not a fan of dystopian or postapocalyptic novels, but I found this work quite interesting. Mandel moves back and forth in time, and from character to character, keeping the reader off balance. But I imagine the characters would have felt pretty lost and off balance after the catastrophic end of civilization as they knew it.
Kirsten is a strong female lead character – resourceful, determined, intelligent. I also really liked Clark and Jeevan, and wish Mandel had spent a little more time with those characters.

LINK to full review

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments If it weren't for the SRC, I'd never had been introduced to Dystopia. And I really enjoyed Station Eleven.

My Review:

4 Stars

"All three caravans of the Traveling Symphony are labeled as such, THE TRAVELING SYMPHONY lettered in white on both sides, but the lead caravan carries an additional line of text:Because survival is insufficient.

The house is silent now and she feels like a stranger here. “This life was never ours,” she whispers to the dog, who has been following her from room to room, and Luli wags her tail and stares at Miranda with wet brown eyes. “We were only ever borrowing it.”

Indeed we are borrowing this life, as we know it, in the 21st Century. The flipping of a switch up or down to turn on the lights. Our machines - you know, our cell phones, tablets, our laptops, our Kindles. The internet itself. Our automobiles. Airplanes. Buses. Trains. Supermarkets. Our refrigerators. The food in our fridge. Our pharmaceuticals that relieves our pain, our depressions, and infections. Gasoline. Natural Gas. Air Conditioning. Heat.

What would you miss if suddenly the world as we know it ends?

I'd miss the electricity foremost. Secondly, the internet. I couldn't read many of my books without the power grid. I'd miss the convenience of pulling out something from the fridge or freezer and nuking it in the microwave. I could step onto my porch deck and shoot the quail, rabbits, and deer that surround me. And I have blackberries growing wild behind my trailer. I have enough physical books to keep me entertained and I'd talk to my cats for company - like I don't already do that. I'd stock pile antibiotics, because any infections would be deadly if %99.6 of the world's population were gone.

But whom could we trust?

I'd trust the the people of The Traveling Symphony and the people whom live in the Airport that houses The Museum of Civilization with no doubt. But you ask , what? Why are are talking about the Apocalypse? It begins in Toronto, on a cold snowy night. The beginning hours of "the Collapse."

Actor Arthur Leander is playing King Lear. In the beginning of the 4th Act, he clutches his chest. A man rushes onto the stage and begins CPR on the dead actor. One of the young girl actors is standing just off stage watching, scared out of her wits. Then the man sees her and gives her comfort. The young Kirsten will continue to have a fascination with Arthur as well as the comics that Leander gave to her.

Leander's first wife, Miranda Carroll, created these graphic novellas, and only a few copies of Station Eleven exist. As Kirsten wanders with THE TRAVELING SYMPHONY, she looks for more editions and press clippings about the deceased actor. Of everyone in the Theatre that night, only she and that unnamed man survive the pandemic of the Georgian Flu.

In the year 20 after The Collapse THE TRAVELING SYMPHONY performs Shakespeare and classical music in what is left of the territory around Toronto and the Great Lakes. They are safe until they meet the Prophet whom has a dog named, Luli. The theatre troupe has something that is his.

Book Blurb
"Moving back and forth in time—from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as The Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it."

message 7: by Lost Planet Airman (last edited Jun 16, 2017 06:21AM) (new)

Lost Planet Airman | 179 comments I'm one of the readers who didn't expect much from this story, and wound up liking it quite a bit. It's more of a fondness for the mysteries involved -- "how are these scenes and these objects of the past going to resolve in the finale" -- than being deeply involved with the characters. Station Eleven did for me in 2017 what The Handmaid's Tale did for me about 25 years ago -- it gave me a literate, intelligent novel wrapped in the colors and tones of dystopian fiction.
[Readerboard name: Mike Dennis]

message 8: by Laure (new)

Laure (goodreadscomlaure) | 460 comments It was one of those books that came good (and even very good I would say) in the end. I got slightly irked at the start with the moving back and forward in time and the unrealistic dystopian elements - no electricity until 20 years in the future? People only like Shakespeare? - but as the story developed it assumed its own internal rhythm, acquired depth and made sense!

*spoiler alert*

One particular scene sticks in my mind, which I found beautiful (and tragic) - Miranda 's last seconds on Earth where she looks at the dawn on the Malaysian sea and it morphs in her mind into Station Eleven ... and there is that slight indication on the last page that this was not the end, she might still be alive as Clark talks about boats coming one day over the horizon. Brilliantly done.

message 9: by Teodora (new)

Teodora Paslaru | 76 comments I liked this book, but I seemed to liked it less than my friends did. I don't know exactly why. I was different and it had things that are necessary for a good book: it had suspense, it kept me interested, it kept me curious. When I was not reading this book I kept thinking about it. But, in the same time... there was something, I don't know exactly what, that I found annoying (one of the things is the fact that it left me the impression that the author does not really know what the internet is exactly and how does it work, but this is not the only thing). Somehow the story seemed insufficient, like I would have like to know more about the characters and the post apocalyptic world, more about the way people survived in that new world. Also, when I read a book that I like a lot, I use to think about how grate would be my relationship with the author if I knew him or her in real life and how good friends we would have been (it is just something silly, I know it might not be like this at all), but with this one... I kept thinking that I would have found her annoying, I don't know exactly why. Maybe it was just the fact that I've read it after a Gabriel García Márquez's book, and few books can stand such a comparison. It was also the fact that in the beginning I kept comparing it with my favorite book involving a virus that kills almost all the people on the planet: The Stand, when in reality the two books are different and should not be compared.

There was one more thing. I think that this book was intended to make us be greateful for the people in our life and for all the things we have like technology and stuff. If with the first one I totally agree, with the second one I do not. People have lived without technology for ages and I am sure we can do this again. Yeah, medical progress is important, but smartphones and social network... we can do without them if we have to. Also, why would you teach children about how you were pressing buttons on phones instead of teaching them the technology behind them, so they would be able to recreate them when the time would be right?

message 10: by Julia (new)

Julia (julia103) | 1624 comments I was underwhelmed by this book. The individual stories were interesting, but I kept wondering how people actually lived. There was no mention of agriculture or any food except meat from the animals who were hunted. And the one mention of physical work that I remember was the woman who tried to keep the airport runways clear in case a plane was going to come. How did people make new clothes? Other than weaponry, there didn't seem to be much description of how people survived.

The jumps in narration between pre and post-Collapse were a literary convenience so that the characters' stories would tie together, but the stories themselves (especially Arthur) weren't very interesting.

message 11: by Marguerite (new)

Marguerite  (maggiechatsbooks) Gave this book 4 stars.

I enjoyed this book very much. The timeline begins at the beginning of the pandemic, then jumps forward then jumps back and forth so you can learn the characters' backstories. It may seem this would be confusing but it is very effective in keeping you vested in the characters and provides a more holistic character profile. The characters are very believable.

There is a lot going on in the book that I was afraid we would be left with a cliff hanger ending so I was very appreciative of the author's well executed closure to the book. Plots and character journeys that needed a conclusion were addressed but enough was left to the imagination to keep me pondering 'what would happen next'.

message 12: by Anna (new)

Anna | 38 comments Readerboard name: Anna K

Having read relatively more dystopian fiction (and fiction, in general) the last couple of years, I had taken a bit of a break from this genre before reading Station Eleven. I had even gone towards the opposite end, reading a few books about attempts to create and sustain eutopias. A fitting reentry book to the dystopia canon, Station Eleven was an entertaining read. Though not sterile or without violence, it combined the anticipated consequences of the end of civilization with a sense of human goodness and resiliency, and included some of the sentimental details that bring comfort and closure to the reader, even when accompanied by a sense of missed opportunity or grief. I found myself more drawn to some of the characters over others, although that did vary depending on the life stage of the character being described. The idea of a travelling symphony and theater company at the so-called end of the world is quite intriguing - I think I might like to see a spin-off series or TV show about such a group!

message 13: by Jammin Jenny (new)

Jammin Jenny (jamminjenny) | 654 comments Readerboard name: Jammin Jenny

I enjoyed this book and gave it 4 stars. I liked the way the author had the interviews interspersed with the action from the past. I also really liked the premise of the book - a flu wiping out a good bit of the population. I found the fact that the characters were called by their instrument names very interesting and novel.

message 14: by Emily S. (new)

Emily S. (esondie) | 0 comments I had a hard time staying engaged with this one. Maybe it's because it's something that could actually happen? Maybe I just didn't want to face the possible reality? I don't know, but it just didn't really click for me.

message 15: by JC (new)

JC (jmnc) | 640 comments This book was chosen for August in my IRL book club (10+ years together!) I really enjoyed the book, and this is my favorite genre. I enjoy dystopian novels so much that I would get miffed while reading when the book would switch back to "before". I found myself wanting more about the "after" world and wanting another book in the series.

message 16: by Diane (new)

Diane (didi3023) | 12 comments I had trouble putting pieces of the story together until I was about halfway through, which caused me to think about abandoning it, as I felt I just wasn't getting into it. But once I figured out how the stories were related, I was into it and then it was hard to put down. I liked the combination of the graphic novel story and how the author combined it with the dystopian story. I was intrigued by the resilience of the characters and how each character coped, good or bad, with the environment, The idea of a mass pandemic is not so far fetched so it is a bit frightening to read.

message 17: by Laura H (new)

Laura H (laurah30) | 367 comments I just finished listening to the audio version which took some time to get into. About halfway through, I started to enjoy the story more. Interesting that the story begins in Toronto - I liked the local references. This is not usually the kind of book I read but I did appreciate the characters and the story development.

message 18: by Elaine (new)

Elaine This is a book that I would never have picked up if not for this challenge...although, after finishing the book, I can't say that I would have missed anything spectacular. The overall story with it's jumps back and forth and its weaving in and out of various characters was not my favorite. However, within the chapters, when the author focused on small moments, I would find myself struck by certain sentences that I enjoyed very much. There would be a certain wording or an idea that intrigued, impressed or entertained. "He realized Arthur wasn't having dinner with him but rather that he was having dinner with an audience" etc. Just little glimpses and observations that made the book more enjoyable in its parts than as its whole.

message 19: by Kathy G. (new)

Kathy G. | 20 comments I had mixed feeling about this book. It was very good in places and other places seemed to drag and were tedious to read. The characters I connected with the most needed to be developed more. All in all, it was a good read and I enjoyed it.

message 20: by Nick (new)

Nick (doily) | 2389 comments As dystopian novels go, this one was O.K. But it was disjointed in an annoying way, jumping around as it did. Usually that type of thing does not bother me, multiple narrators and timelines, but here in this dystopian universe, I wanted, as a reader, to view things a little clearer. This is an odd criticism from a Cormac McCarthy lover such as myself, but for some reason it fits here.

The theatricality of the whole story, from the first dying actor to the dtroup in the dystopian era, was a refreshing aspect which held together the miasma of this world.

message 21: by Kathy (new)

Kathy | 524 comments Readerboard name Kathy P
I really enjoyed this book. I liked that it included sections 20 years after the collapse and showed the world starting to go back together in some fashion. I guess I just like a hopeful ending to my dystonian fiction.

Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 2966 comments I am about halfway through the book. I really liked the Arthur and Miranda's story. I was saddened to find out they didn't stay together. I really didn't have any expectations of this book other than I knew it was popular. I would give it an average rating.

message 23: by Tess (last edited Aug 14, 2017 06:16PM) (new)

Tess (tessavanessa) | 1241 comments TessaVanessa
I just finished Station Eleven. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked it. From the beginning I was pretty much hooked on the whole world wide flu pandemic (for some reason these kind of stories always intrigue me.) My favorite parts of the book after saying that were the ones that talked about right after it happened and how they survived and came together. At first I was having a difficult time in figuring out the whole Symphony thing, but then I really liked how in the end it all came together. Good choice! The members of the book discussion groups that I run (3 of them) are always commenting about how they would never have picked the book that we are discussing. This falls into the category of that for me.

message 24: by Nicola (last edited Aug 20, 2017 12:29PM) (new)

Nicola | 1415 comments I wasn't expecting that much and I wasn't overly disappointed. I find I often don't like the 'in' books (which makes for a pleasant surprise when I do :-))

It wasn't dreadful, the author can clearly write and the characters were believable and well portrayed even if I didn't particularly like any of them. Still, I was underwhelmed.

The basic premise of a super speedy almost totally deadly disease that erupts out of nowhere and seems to transmit fairly instantly by breathing the same air even when the carrier is asymptomatic is pretty ridiculous. Viruses are living things too and a parasite that destroys its host that quickly is not successful. There is a whole lot wrong with this and it really bugged me (pun intended).

Then there was the idea of a travelling show after all civilisation had broken down. That took a fair amount of suspension of disbelief. And after throwing in crazy prophets and time jumps and constant moving between characters which added to the disjointedness of the plot, I failed to be very enthralled.

I thought it was ok and that's about it.

message 25: by Pamela (new)

Pamela (pamela3265) | 979 comments Pamela3265

This was a re-read for me, I gave it four stars the first time through and rated it the same the second time. The book intrigued. However, most of the characters originated from cities. I live in an agricultural area and think that individuals with that type of background might react a little bit differently. Also, with the numbers of people that died, I would think there would be plenty of basic resources (food, shelter, clothing) until arrangements could be made to provide for those needs in the future.

message 26: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 3612 comments Pamela wrote: "Pamela3265

Also, with the numbers of people that died, I would think there would be plenty of basic resources (food, shelter, clothing) until arrangements could be made to provide for those needs in the future....."

But survivors would be afraid to enter a building where there might be infected corpses .... or to handle the bodies for burial or burning. Electricity would no longer be available to heat / cool because you wouldn't have the people to run the power plants, or to provide the fuel those plants require.

message 27: by Pamela (last edited Aug 23, 2017 11:34AM) (new)

Pamela (pamela3265) | 979 comments Book Concierge wrote: "Pamela wrote: "Pamela3265

Also, with the numbers of people that died, I would think there would be plenty of basic resources (food, shelter, clothing) until arrangements could be made to provide f..."

I wondered how long it took the characters in the book to start entering abandoned buildings. Most of the buildings they came across had already been cleaned out, but the untouched home they came across had bodies in it. August didn't seem to have any fear of covering and praying over them.

I ran the numbers for my town. If 99% of the population died, there would be 282 people remaining. We have three grocery stores as well as other small businesses. Even if all of the fresh food had gone bad before the stores were raided, there should be plenty left to provide food and clothing for the survivors. Many of the homes in my area also have wood-burning fireplaces so you could keep warm in the winter.

One part of the book that bothered me was when the characters just sat there waiting for the National Guard to come. I live in a town that was almost entirely destroyed by a flood 40 years ago. A team from the national disaster agency arrived a few days after the flood to start organizing the recovery and called a meeting of city leaders. When the leader of the team started giving instructions, most of the beginning needs had already been met. After a few minutes of giving instructions and learning that they had already done those things, he stepped back and asked how he could help. People whose homes were untouched provided food and shelter for those who needed it. There was a college located on a hill that was above the floodwaters. They also provided food and shelter to people who had lost everything. With this example as our heritage, I just think the survivors would work together to recover as best as they could instead of it becoming every man for himself like it sounds like the first years after the Georgia flu were.

Thanks for responding to my post. I love discussing books.

message 28: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 1177 comments I loved this, and I'm glad I finally had the push to read it. I liked how "real" it felt for a dystopia. If the aim was to make the reader appreciate the luxuries we live with, it worked for me.

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