Friday, January 19, 2018

Book Review: The End of the World Running Club

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The End of the World Running Club from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

I originally picked up this book last summer, thinking it would be a great read for the blog book club. At the time, I read it about 25% of the way through but the story just didn't grab my attention. Fast forward to the present. I joined a running book club on Facebook and guess what book they were reading for November? I decided to give The End of the World Running Club another chance and long story short, I am so glad that I did!



The story takes place in present-day Scotland. A giant asteroid hits the United Kingdom and destroys everything within miles. The main character, Edgar, who was somewhat of a slacker as a husband and a father, holes up with his family in their cellar. For weeks, they barely survived and finally, he heads out of the cellar in search of food and water. Shocked by what he finds--desperation and devastation--he moves his family to an abandoned army barracks, where he meets up with a few other men who are determined to find supplies. On a trip out of the barracks, Ed returns only to find his family and all the other survivors gone, taken via helicopter to the south where rescue boats will remove them to safety.

Ed and the other guys begin a 450 mile trip across the devastation in an attempt to reach the shore and the boats, along with Ed's family. Covering very little ground the first couple of days, the men decide that the only way to get there will be to run 20 miles per day. Ed, with his lack of ambition, protests but he is overruled and forced to run along with the men. Their journey is scary, it is interesting, and it is terrifying. They eat unspeakable things, meet up with terrible people, and have to fight for their lives. But in spite of all that, Ed grows to love running.

Initially, he shows his disdain for running and runners:
"To me, running was just showing off, a way for self-obsessed pricks to show how much more focused, disciplined, and healthy they were than you. How much more average they were than you--the subaverage glutton who watched from a park bench with it's prepacked lunch."
"Shall I say this again? I hated running......then I began to run."
And then things began to change.
"I remember running, running everywhere without thought. And yet I don't remember actually running. Not the effort of it. I remember lightness. I remember speed. I remember the earth seeming to bounce beneath me as if it were a giant balloon I could push away with my bare feet. I don't remember stiff, slwo limbs, or tigh lungs or the feeling of concrete pounding through my bones."
"The task seemed less impossible the more we pushed on. Every mile I conquered was one less to endure.....nothing out there was changing, but everything inside was." 
While The End of the World Running Club isn't a running book, running is a central character. As Ed travels through the post-apocalyptic world, he changes. He develops an inner strength and toughness that he never possessed prior to the disaster. Ed comes to realize how important his family is and he is desperate to reconnect with them.

Even if you aren't a fan of apocalyptic novels (I enjoy them--I loved Station Eleven), this was a gripping read that I had trouble putting down. I'm not sure why I struggled with the book the first time I picked it up. Maybe I was waiting for the running to happen and when it didn't, I gave up. The narrative describing the disaster and the initial aftermath is somewhat frightening. The author does a great job of demonstrating how a disaster brings out the worst in people. He also shows how tough times bring unlikely friendships and bonds. I loved how the author wove running into the story, and like so many of us, Ed found inner strength through the challenge of running regularly. Of course, most recreational runners don't run 20 miles per day, but then again, Ed wasn't a recreational runner. He was running for his life.

This book was a change from most of the running books I've featured for the book club, but I hope there will be more fictional stories coming our way!

Did you read the book? What did you think of the story? The ending? How do you think it turned out for Ed? Do you think he'll continue running? 

Thanks as always for participating in the book club! I no longer have a linkup for book reviews, but if you've posted one on your blog or social media account, let me know so I can add it to this post! Be sure to link back to this post!


UPDATE: I completely forgot to put next month's book in the post! Here it is: For February we are reading Gratitude in Motion by fellow INKnBURN ambassador Colleen Kelly Alexander. She has quite the comeback story after being hit by a truck while riding her bike to work. A lifelong athlete, she used her inner strength honed from years of competition to persevere through years of surgeries and therapy to return to athletics. I'll post the review on February 16.



I'm linking up with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for the Friday Five 2.0!


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49 comments :

  1. this sounds actually like a great read. I don't read often (simply because I don't have time and I'm way too tired to read) but it's something I'd like to do more of again. So I picked up a book in Naples this weekend and I want to finish that first, however I think I'll add this one to my reading list!!

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  2. I agree, this sounds like a very interesting book. I'm pretty sure I would have never heard of it without your review, so thanks for sharing!!

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    1. It's definitely not a running book, which widens its appeal to everyone.

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  3. Guess what? I did read this book! All the scavenging for batteries got me worried because we don't even have many battery-operated things anymore -- everything recharges via usb which requires electricity. We do still have an emergency hand crank radio/spot light thing somewhere .....

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    1. I'm so glad you read it! What did you think? Besides making sure you are prepared for an apocalypse?

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  4. This definitely sounds like an interesting read! I love apocalyptic/dystopian-type novels, so I feel like I'd definitely enjoy this one! THe premise is definitely intriguing!

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  5. If only I could add a magical six hours to my day....you always have such great reviews of books, and I am always intrigued...but I never take any action to read the featured books. My bad. I tend to avoid end-of-the-world stuff because the death and destruction is so disturbing, but I do appeciate seeing the good that comes out of it.

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    1. I like all kinds of books--the apocalyptic ones fascinate me, as long as they don't get too weird.

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  6. If you hadn't mentioned this one over lunch, I'd never have heard of it! :) Not typically a genre I enjoy but it does sound pretty thought provoking.

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  7. Interesting! I got this as an ebook a while ago because it was on sale, started it, and couldn't get too far into it. But I guess I should give it another try because it sounds like it's worth it for the later parts of the book.

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    1. I was really glad I gave it a second go, because it was hard to put down once I got into it.

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  8. This isn't usually a genre I read, but it sounds interesting. Thanks for the review!

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  9. What an interesting premise! I really need to read more.

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  10. That actually sounds interesting. I'm not much into apocalyptic novels (or is it post-apocalyptic? How do you tell?), or movies for that matter, but some do strike me as interesting. It's all about the human spirit and growth. I think I'll put this on my list of things to read when I have time to read a fiction book!

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    1. I could see this book being made into a movie--it felt like that to me!

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  11. This sounds like a really good book. I just finished the book "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" by Jenny Lawson. So hilarious. Highly recommend. But I need a new book to read so maybe I'll try this one! Thanks!

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    1. Ok, based on your recommendation, I'm going to read that one! Thanks!

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  12. This isn't a typical genre I would read either but seeing that running is part of the book, that might make it seem more intriguing!

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  13. Sounds like an interesting book! I do tend to enjoy books that involve running even if it's not the main storyline.

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    1. Once he started running, the book really took off! (pun not intended)

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  14. Its amazing how when we give something another try that our opinion about it can completely change, like it did for you and this book.

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    1. I had a good feeling about this book--glad I picked it up again!

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  15. I was going to say, this reminds me a lot of Station Eleven! I was telling somebody that all this flu in the news is reminding me of Station Eleven.

    I added it to my list of books to read, I am always intrigued by apocalyptic novels.

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  16. It's great that you gave the book a second chance and ended up loving it!

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  17. I've never heard of this one but I'll for sure have to check it out!! A running book club sounds so fun!!!

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    1. Check out the past selections on the tab at the top of my blog!

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  18. I'm not a big apocalypse fan but this sounds like it's much deeper than that and the running aspect would make it even more interesting. Gosh, I keep thinking I'll pick up a book again soon ....I just can't seem to stay focused long enough. Could it be menopause brain fog? I like to blame everything on that. Lol

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    1. I like to blame everything on menopause and/or RA. Maybe it's just me? LOL

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  19. I haven't heard of this book, but it does sound good! I keep saying I need to make time for recreational reading. I have a stack of books just waiting for me...

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    1. I read a lot and I have a stack of books too!

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  20. I like the idea of fiction mixed with the running! I don't know how you find time to read though. Kudos. I only read when I travel.

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  21. I love to read, and this book sounds interesting... will have to add it to my "wish list" on Overdrive.

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  22. I haven't heard of this book. Sounds interesting. Glad you enjoyed it! I always look forward to your book club finds!

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    1. Thank you! Sometimes it's hard to find good books to review, but lately I've had more than I can read!

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  23. Thanks for sharing your review! I usually enjoy books about running. I will have to add this to my long list of books to read :)

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  24. This sounds like an amazing read! I'll have to see if I can find it at the library. (I'm a librarian, I don't buy books LOL)

    -MCM Mama

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    1. How did I know this book would appeal to you?

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  25. The combo of post-apocalyptic fiction and self-improvement via running doesn't sound like my thing, I probably would have put it down at the first go to. But good for you for keeping up on book club, reading sounds like a better change of pace from screen time.

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