Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
- Published in 2014
- National Book Award for Fiction in 2014 Finalist
- This is Emily St. John Mandel’s fourth novel
A unique take on the already been told post-apocalypse story, about the destruction of a fast acting and deadly influenza outbreak. There is really no main character, and is told from several perspectives at various different points in time. Our story starts during a play of Shakespeare’s King Lear, during which a famous Hollywood actor collapses on stage, while simultaneously chaos is just revving up in the rest of the world.
Click here for the Goodreads synopsis.
I liked a lot of things about this book. I’m sort of over the whole 500 different perspectives in every book I read, BUT – I actually liked how it was done here. I like how the story flowed between the various points-of-view, as well as throughout different time periods in a way that was seamless, and completely readable, without being confusing. I also loved the way the plot lines wove together and fell apart throughout the book. Excellent writing.
Another aspect I really enjoyed, was the underlying sense of hope instilled in most of the characters. Despite the profound, and apparent never-ending desolation, each character seems to find purpose, and work towards a future – whatever that may hold. For example, several of the characters are part of a Traveling Symphony that risk their lives to travel to towns and settlements, simply to bring art and music to its inhabitants merely for the joy and enrichment of it.
One aspect I found creative, was the interweaving of the Doctor Eleven comic book series, written by one of the characters named Miranda. It involves a physicist named Dr. Eleven who lives in space after the Earth is invaded by aliens. This comic was gifted to Kirsten when she was a child before the pandemic, and she has treasured her copies all this time. Pieces of it pop up here and there, seeming to parallel the current goings-on, and I think it would have been pretty amazing if the described artwork had been mixed in to the pages of the novel.
The one main negative to me, was the ending felt a bit anti-climactic. When I got to the end, I didn’t even realize I had read the last sentence of the whole book until I turned the page and it was over… I had to go back and re-read the last few paragraphs, and still didn’t have a sense of completion. I was also left with so many unanswered questions, but not necessarily in a completely negative way… just in a way, that hey, I kinda wish I knew what happened there.
All in all, an excellent read, and one I would recommend to everyone. [4/5 stars]
If you want more…
- Rincey Reads video
- April’s review at The Steadfast Reader
- The Huffington Post
- Sabrina at Unmanaged Mischief video
- Maxwell (from Well Done Books) Goodreads review
- Andi’s review at Estella’s Revenge