Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven


Author: Emily St.John Mandel
Release Date:  September 9th 2014
Genres: Science fiction, dystopia, apocalyptic
Series: NA
Pages: 333
Pacing: Medium/slow


Set in the days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. 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 Traveling 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.

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When I think back on the plot and all the characters and events, I feel I should have absolutely loved this book and there were many things I did really enjoy but some parts were duller than dirt. This is a very human story about a very possible way the end of the modern world could come about: uncontrollable plague and how it affects the survivors.

This was a book where some parts I absolutely loved and some I just wanted to go to sleep, the ones I found tremendously tedious were the ones where it went on about the actors daily lives before the flu, and while I can see how these parts were necessary, they to me could have been delivered in a more exciting way, that was just my preference as I really didn’t get on with these parts and was always counting the pages for them to be over. The parts I really connected with were the ones (of course) set during the time the world went to pot and afterwards and for these sections I really enjoyed the writing style as it managed to really immerse me in what was happening to the world and characters. The opposite can be said for the parts set before the flu as I could hardly ever connect with any of those characters and found I genuinely didn’t care for their drama, yet at the same time I can see why these parts were relevant to how things turned out in the future but they just didn’t engage me.

Thankfully a lot more of the novel was about the apocalypse and the world after and this might be hard to believe after what I just said, but this has to be one of the most immersive, real and plausible account of the end of the world that I’ve ever come across. The whole disaster regarding the Georgia Flu felt so possible and where modern civilisation fell apart it really did feel like this is what could happen one day and this is how it would happen. That brings me onto another thing I didn’t really like about this book, the whole Georgia Flu in my opinion wasn’t explored enough and there was hardly any info into how it originated and why some people were immune AND why it never seemed to come back in the passages 20 years after the flu had ravaged the world, no more people ever suffered from it again. But I suppose as this is told from the point of view of the survivors there isn’t a lot those who are fighting for their lives will know about the science of what is destroying their world..

sesame street idk GIF

I will also add that another thing that made me really connect with this novel was the fact that some passages were set in an airport with many grounded planes nearby as well as one that landed and stopped on the tarmac then just stood there apparently quarantined. I connected with these passages because I have spent a good deal of my life in the past travelling to far away places and the way the author wrote these bits I could completely emphasise with the stranded passengers, I could totally imagine what it must have felt like to be stuck thousands of miles from your home with no way of getting back while everything went to hell around you. Once again the way the author crafted these scenes made it feel like you were really living through them and the plausibility of it all was actually at some points nerve racking. I also liked how the author also managed to successfully portray how it must be for those children born after the world had ended, not knowing anything different from the life they had in the changed world. These parts I really enjoyed reading too!

In the end I would say I did enjoy this book despite the flaws and bores and I really wish we would have found out what exactly happened before with the plane that was quarantined even though I can kinda guess. This was a really thought provoking and possible view on how our world could change and for the bits I did enjoy I will say I really hope there will be more engaging, plausible apocalyptic novels coming to the market in the future, and that this never happens to our world…

Who I’d recommend this for

Basically anyone who likes post apocalyptic fiction. While this book doesn’t rely too much on action it tends to have suspense in the writing and this is what makes this book so easy to emphasise with in the apocalyptic parts. This is a book that need patience, as I said, but I will also say even with all the boring parts this book is ultimately worth it!

worth it lol GIF by Learn Something Every Day

One thought on “Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

  1. Great review! This has been on my TBR mountain for some time now. I really need to get to it soon. I must say, though, I don’t really like this cover here. I like mine 🤣 it’s blue. The one I tend to see most often in stores.


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