Book Review: Station Eleven

23593321Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Published by Picador Press on January 1, 2015

Genres: Adult Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopia

Pages: 339 Format: Paperback Source: Purchased

4/5 Stars

What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty.

One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whilst performing the role of a lifetime. That same evening a deadly virus touches down in North America. The world will never be the same again.

Twenty years later Kirsten, an actress in the Travelling Symphony, performs Shakespeare in the settlements that have grown up since the collapse. But then her newly hopeful world is threatened.

If civilization was lost, what would you preserve? And how far would you go to protect it?

A devastating flu epidemic spreads across the globe bringing about the collapse of civilization. Those who survive scatter across the world, some settle and others keep on the move. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel explores the before and after of this apocalyptic world through the interconnected lives of Arthur Leander and Kirsten Raymonde as well as a cast of supporting characters.

Mandel’s writing has depth but is easy to comprehend. The switch between characters and time frames is smooth and it wasn’t hard to figure out what was happening when moving from character to character. The inclusion of so many different art forms from comics and film to theater and music gave the novel a greater weight.

My favorite part of this book was the connections between all of the different players. It was exciting to be able to connect the dots and see how everyone fit into place. I thought Station Eleven’s characters really brought this story to life. Kirsten Raymonde and the Traveling Symphony were the most compelling parts of the narrative for me. I loved that they brought a little piece of hope and beauty everywhere they went.

Overall I really enjoyed Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It was well written and easy to understand the story arc while the characters were unique and well developed. I was worried I wouldn’t like the format which is why I hadn’t picked it up yet but I thought it added more to the novel told this way.

Favorite Quotes

  1. Jeevan was crushed by a sudden certainty that this was it, that this illness Hua was describing was going to be the divide between a before and an after, a line drawn through his life.
  2. I stood looking over my damaged home and tried to forget the sweetness of life on Earth.
  3. They’re all immortal to me. First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.
  4. Nonetheless, I believe in understanding history.
  5. An incomplete list: No more diving into pools of chlorinated water lit green from below. No more ball games played out under floodlights. No more porch lights with moths fluttering on summer nights. No more trains running under the surface of cities on the dazzling power of the electric third rail. No more cities.

Have you read Station Eleven? Would you survive an apocalypse? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


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