Station Eleven is simply fantastic. I’m rating it 4.5 stars and leaving myself the option of bumping it up to 5 stars later. I still don’t know because I’m too busy rolling around in all the feels.
I have the impression that I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian future books lately. Whenever I go to describe a book I’ve really enjoyed to someone I hear myself saying “well, it’s set in a dystopian future where BLANK has gone wrong…” To a certain extent, Station Eleven can be grouped with those books, but I don’t know that it would be a fair descriptor of all this book is. There is the thing that goes wrong – The Georgian Flu – and it happens tomorrow, or this coming winter, and then there’s nearly no one left. But the meat of the story is in talking about and ruminating on then what do you do? What do you do if you know you have a matter of hours left to live? How do the characters who survive carry on? Mandel explores all the options because some don’t, some join the Traveling Symphony (because survival isn’t enough), some relearn what life is like, and some go a little nuts.
You should go into Station Eleven knowing very little (I almost feel like I’ve already said too much and any synopsis you read will give you more information). There were a couple times when the story turned left when I thought it was going to turn right, and I went back to the cover flap to figure out if I had misread something that left me confused. Nope, I hadn’t, Emily St. John Mandel just knew how to weave the story so that she pump-faked me. And I loved it. In my last review I praised the way Anthony Doerr kept his alternating chapters balanced, that we were equally with each of our main characters in All the Light We Cannot See. Mandel doesn’t do that with Station Eleven, but it helps create a beautiful eerie quality to the book, and heightens the tension because you never know when you’re going to see a character again and if perhaps their storyline has reached the end.
Read this book.
This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read.