Station Eleven

Station Eleven

4.1 102
by Emily St. John Mandel
     
 

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An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding 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 Arthur Leander, a

Overview

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding 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 Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.
 
Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.
 
Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

Editorial Reviews

A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2014

Fifteen years after a pandemic marks the end of life as we know it, an itinerant Shakespearean troupe performs its way across the husk of a vastly depopulated America. In this stunning, layered narrative tying together the lives of people before, on the eve of, and after most of the world’s population is wiped out, St. John Mandel writes about what matters at the end of everything. Dystopian fiction is so often about mere survival, but St. John Mandel understands we need something to survive for. See all of the Best Fiction Books of 2014.

The New York Times Book Review - Sigrid Nunez
Mandel is an able and exuberant storyteller, and many readers will be won over by her nimble interweaving of her characters' lives and fates…Station Eleven is as much a mystery as it is a post-apocalyptic tale, and Mandel is especially good at planting clues and raising the kind of plot-thickening questions that keep the reader turning pages…If Station Eleven reveals little insight into the effects of extreme terror and misery on humanity, it offers comfort and hope to those who believe, or want to believe, that doomsday can be survived, that in spite of everything people will remain good at heart, and that when they start building a new world they will want what was best about the old.
Publishers Weekly
06/23/2014
Few themes are as played-out as that of post-apocalypse, but St. John Mandel (The Lola Quartet) finds a unique point of departure from which to examine civilization’s wreckage, beginning with a performance of King Lear cut short by the onstage death of its lead, Arthur Leander, from an apparent heart attack. On hand are an aspiring paramedic, Jeevan Chaudary, and a young actress, Kirsten Raymonde; Leander’s is only the first death they will witness, as a pandemic, the so-called Georgia Flu, quickly wipes out all but a few pockets of civilization. Twenty years later, Kirsten, now a member of a musical theater troupe, travels through a wasteland inhabited by a dangerous prophet and his followers. Guided only by the graphic novel called Station Eleven given to her by Leander before his death, she sets off on an arduous journey toward the Museum of Civilization, which is housed in a disused airport terminal. Kirsten is not the only survivor with a curious link to the actor: the story explores Jeevan’s past as an entertainment journalist and, in a series of flashbacks, his role in Leander’s decline. Also joining the cast are Leander’s first wife, Miranda, who is the artist behind Station Eleven, and his best friend, 70-year-old Clark Thompson, who tends to the terminal settlement Kirsten is seeking. With its wild fusion of celebrity gossip and grim future, this book shouldn’t work nearly so well, but St. John Mandel’s examination of the connections between individuals with disparate destinies makes a case for the worth of even a single life. (Sept.)
Library Journal
04/15/2014
A movie star who's decided to pound the boards as King Lear collapses and dies mid-performance, and shortly thereafter civilization collapses and starts dying as well. The narrative then moves between the actor's early career and a journey through the blasted landscape 15 years after the book's opening events. Indie Next darling Mandel breaks out with a major publisher.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-06-17
Survivors and victims of a pandemic populate this quietly ambitious take on a post-apocalyptic world where some strive to preserve art, culture and kindness.In her fourth novel, Mandel (The Lola Quartet, 2012, etc.) moves away from the literary thriller form of her previous books but keeps much of the intrigue. The story concerns the before and after of a catastrophic virus called the Georgia Flu that wipes out most of the world’s population. On one side of the timeline are the survivors, mainly a traveling troupe of musicians and actors and a stationary group stuck for years in an airport. On the other is a professional actor, who dies in the opening pages while performing King Lear, his ex-wives and his oldest friend, glimpsed in flashbacks. There’s also the man—a paparazzo-turned-paramedic—who runs to the stage from the audience to try to revive him, a Samaritan role he will play again in later years. Mandel is effectively spare in her depiction of both the tough hand-to-mouth existence of a devastated world and the almost unchallenged life of the celebrity—think of Cormac McCarthy seesawing with Joan Didion. The intrigue arises when the troupe is threatened by a cult and breaks into disparate offshoots struggling toward a common haven. Woven through these little odysseys, and cunningly linking the cushy past and the perilous present, is a figure called the Prophet. Indeed, Mandel spins a satisfying web of coincidence and kismet while providing numerous strong moments, as when one of the last planes lands at the airport and seals its doors in self-imposed quarantine, standing for days on the tarmac as those outside try not to ponder the nightmare within. Another strand of that web is a well-traveled copy of a sci-fi graphic novel drawn by the actor’s first wife, depicting a space station seeking a new home after aliens take over Earth—a different sort of artist also pondering man’s fate and future.Mandel’s solid writing and magnetic narrative make for a strong combination in what should be a breakout novel.
From the Publisher
One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Buzzfeed, and Entertainment Weekly, Time, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Minnesota Public Radio, The Huffington Post, BookPage, Time Out, BookRiot

 
Station Eleven is so compelling, so fearlessly imagined, that I wouldn’t have put it down for anything.”
— Ann Patchett
 
“A superb novel . . . [that] leaves us not fearful for the end of the word but appreciative of the grace of everyday existence.” —San Francisco Chronicle 

“Deeply melancholy, but beautifully written, and wonderfully elegiac . . . A book that I will long remember, and return to.”
— George R. R. Martin

 “Absolutely extraordinary.” —Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus
 
 
“Darkly lyrical. . . . A truly haunting book, one that is hard to put down." —The Seattle Times
 
“Tender and lovely. . . . Equal parts page-turner and poem.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“Mesmerizing.” — People
 
 “Mandel delivers a beautifully observed walk through her book’s 21st century world…. I kept putting the book down, looking around me, and thinking, ‘Everything is a miracle.’”—Matt Thompson, NPR  
 
“Magnificent.” —Booklist
 
“My book of the year.”—Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves 
 
“Unmissable. . . . A literary page-turner, impeccably paced, which celebrates the world lost.” —Vulture
 
“Haunting and riveting.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
 
Station Eleven is the kind of book that speaks to dozens of the readers in me—the Hollywood devotee, the comic book fan, the cult junkie, the love lover, the disaster tourist. It is a brilliant novel, and Emily St. John Mandel is astonishing.” —Emma Straub, author of The Vacationers
 
“Think of Cormac McCarthy seesawing with Joan Didion. . . . Magnetic.”  —Kirkus (starred)

“Even if you think dystopian fiction is not your thing, I urge you to give this marvelous novel a try. . . . [An] emotional and thoughtful story.” —Deborah Harkness, author of The Book of Life

“It’s hard to imagine a novel more perfectly suited, in both form and content, to this literary moment. Station Eleven, if we were to talk about it in our usual way, would seem like a book that combines high culture and low culture—“literary fiction” and “genre fiction.” But those categories aren’t really adequate to describe the book” —The New Yorker

“Audacious. . . . A book about gratitude, about life right now, if we can live to look back on it." —Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“A surprisingly beautiful story of human relationships amid devastation.” —The Washington Post

“Soul-quaking. . . . Mandel displays the impressive skill of evoking both terror and empathy.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“A genuinely unsettling dystopian novel that also allows for moments of great tenderness. Emily St. John Mandel conjures indelible visuals, and her writing is pure elegance.” —Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers

“Possibly the most captivating and thought-provoking post-apocalyptic novel you will ever read.” —The Independent (London)

“A firework of a novel . . . full of life and humanity and the aftershock of memory.” —Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls

“One of the best things I’ve read on the ability of art to endure in a good long while.” —Tobias Carroll, Electric Literature

“Will change the post-apocalyptic genre. . . . This isn’t a story about survival, it’s a story about living.” —Boston Herald

 “A big, brilliant, ambitious, genre-bending novel. . . . Hands-down one of my favorite books of the year.” —Sarah McCarry, Tor.com

“Strange, poetic, thrilling, and grim all at once, Station Eleven is a prismatic tale about survival, unexpected coincidences, and the significance of art.” —Bustle, “Best Book of the Month”

“Disturbing, inventive and exciting, Station Eleven left me wistful for a world where I still live.” —Jessie Burton, author of The Miniaturist

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385353304
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/09/2014
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
129,441
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Jeevan’s understanding of disaster preparedness was based entirely on action movies, but on the other hand, he’d seen a lot of action movies. He started with water, filled one of the oversized shopping carts with as many cases and bottles as he could fit. There was a moment of doubt on the way to the cash registers, straining against the weight of the cart—was he overreacting?—but there was a certain momentum now, too late to turn back. The clerk raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

 “I’m parked just outside,” he said. “I’ll bring the cart back.” The clerk nodded, tired. She was young, early twenties probably, with dark bangs that she kept pushing out of her eyes. He forced the impossibly heavy cart outside and half-pushed, half-skidded through the snow at the exit. There was a long ramp down into a small park-like arrangement of benches and planters. The cart gained speed on the incline, bogged down in deep snow at the bottom of the ramp and slid sideways into a planter.

It was eleven twenty. The supermarket closed in forty minutes. He was imagining how long it would take to bring the cart up to Frank’s apartment, to unload it, the time required for tedious explanations and reassurances of sanity before he could return to the grocery store for more supplies. Could there be any harm in leaving the cart here for the moment? There was no one on the street. He called Hua on his way back into the store.

 “What’s happening now?” He moved quickly through the store while Hua spoke. Another case of water—Jeevan was under the impression that one can never have too much—and then cans and cans of food, all the tuna and beans and soup on the shelf, pasta, anything that looked like it might last a while. The hospital was full of flu patients and the situation was identical at the other hospitals in the city. The ambulance service was overwhelmed. Thirty-seven patients had died now, including every patient who’d been on the Moscow flight and two E.R. nurses who’d been on duty when the first patients came in. The shopping cart was almost unmanageably heavy. Hua said he’d called his wife and told her to take the kids and leave the city tonight, but not by airplane. Jeevan was standing by the cash register again, the clerk scanning his cans and packages. The part of the evening that had transpired in the Elgin Theatre seemed like possibly a different lifetime. The clerk was moving very slowly. Jeevan passed her a credit card and she scrutinized it as though she hadn’t just seen it five or ten minutes ago.

 “Take Laura and your brother,” Hua said, “and leave the city tonight.”
 
“I can’t leave the city tonight, not with my brother. I can’t rent a wheelchair van at this hour.”

 In response there was only a muffled sound. Hua was coughing.
 
“Are you sick?” Jeevan was pushing the cart toward the door.

 “Goodnight, Jeevan.” Hua disconnected and Jeevan was alone in the snow. He felt possessed. The next cart was all toilet paper. The cart after that was more canned goods, also frozen meat and aspirin, garbage bags, bleach, duct tape.

 “I work for a charity,” he said to the girl behind the cash register, his third or fourth time through, but she wasn’t paying much attention to him. She kept glancing up at the small television above the film development counter, ringing his items through on autopilot. Jeevan called Laura on his sixth trip through the store, but his call went to voicemail.

 “Laura,” he began. “Laura.” He thought it better to speak to her directly and it was already almost eleven fifty, there wasn’t time for this. Filling the cart with more food, moving quickly through this bread-and-flower-scented world, this almost-gone place, thinking of Frank in his 22nd floor apartment, high up in the snowstorm with his insomnia and his book project, his day-old New York Times and his Beethoven. Jeevan wanted desperately to reach him. He decided to call Laura later, changed his mind and called the home line while he was standing by the checkout counter, mostly because he didn’t want to make eye contact with the clerk.
 
“Jeevan, where are you?” She sounded slightly accusatory. He handed over his credit card.
 
“Are you watching the news?”
 
“Should I be?”

“There’s a flu epidemic, Laura. It’s serious.”

“That thing in Russia or wherever? I knew about that.”

“It’s here now. It’s worse than we’d thought. I’ve just been talking to Hua. You have to leave the city.” He glanced up in time to see the look the checkout girl gave him.

Have to? What? Where are you, Jeevan?” He was signing his name on the slip, struggling with the cart toward the exit, where the order of the store ended and the frenzy of the storm began. It was difficult to steer the cart with one hand. There were already five carts parked haphazardly between benches and planters, dusted now with snow.

“Just turn on the news, Laura.”

“You know I don’t like to watch the news before bed. Are you having an anxiety attack?”

“What? No. I’m going to my brother’s place to make sure he’s okay.”

“Why wouldn’t he be?”

“You’re not even listening. You never listen to me.” Jeevan knew this was probably a petty thing to say in the face of a probable flu pandemic, but couldn’t resist. He plowed the cart into the others and dashed back into the store. “I can’t believe you left me at the theatre,” he said. “You just left me at the theatre performing CPR on a dead actor.”

“Jeevan, tell me where you are.”

“I’m in a grocery store.” It was eleven fifty-five. This last cart was all grace items: vegetables, fruit, bags of oranges and lemons, tea, coffee, crackers, salt, preserved cakes. “Look, Laura, I don’t want to argue. This flu’s serious, and it’s fast.”

 “What’s fast?”

“This flu, Laura. It’s really fast. Hua told me. It’s spreading so quickly. I think you should get out of the city.” At the last moment, he added a bouquet of daffodils.
           
 

Meet the Author

Emily St. John Mandel was born in British Columbia, Canada. She is the author of three previous novels—Last Night in Montreal, The Singer’s Gun, and The Lola Quartet—all of which were Indie Next picks. She is a staff writer for The Millions, and her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including The Best American Mystery Stories 2013 and Venice Noir. She lives in New York City with her husband.

www.emilymandel.com

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Station Eleven: A novel 4.1 out of 5 based on 4 ratings. 103 reviews.
BrandieC More than 1 year ago
There has been a lot of "buzz" surrounding Emily St. John Mandel's contribution to the post-apocalyptic genre, Station Eleven, which was selected as one of Amazon's best books of the month for September. While I'm not sure that all the hype is quite justified, I did enjoy Mandel's writing and her fresh approach. Rather than placing her primary focus on the horrors and challenges of survival in a world decimated by the "Georgia flu," Mandel clearly believes the motto she gives her Traveling Symphony: "Survival is insufficient." The main characters in Station Eleven are not ex-military hardasses, as is so often the case in this genre; they are actors, musicians, and artists who believe that the fine arts are essential to our human identity, a sentiment with which I heartily agree. Mandel conveys this feeling not only through the actions and dialogue of her characters, but also by following key relics of the pre-apocalypse world (a paperweight, a comic book) as they pass through various hands, connecting lives in sometimes unexpected ways. We have here, not six degrees of Kevin Bacon, but six degrees of "Station Eleven," the comic book from which the novel draws its title. Strangely enough, Station Eleven's strength is also its main weakness. Mandel gives short shrift to her characters' survival narratives. Survival may be insufficient, but it is nevertheless essential. Kirsten Raymonde, the child actor who subsequently joins the Traveling Symphony in its Shakespeare productions, doesn't remember her first year as a survivor, presumably because it was too traumatic. Although I didn't need the gory details, I did feel as though her amnesia left a gaping hole as I reached the end of the book. This quibble aside, Station Eleven is a moving and surprisingly hopeful addition to the literature of the post-apocalypse. I received a free copy of Station Eleven through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you love literary fiction you'll love this. If you are not a fan of science fiction or dystopian fiction...well, read this anyway. It's all about character, time, and place. You'll love it and expand your horizons. Trust me!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a sucker for the recent flood of apocalyptic tales, and this was one of the best stories I've read in a long time. It was less about the collapse of civilization and more about the characters experiences, but the story provided enough details of the events to be satisfying. I did not want the story to end, and yet I could not put the book down. I would recommend this to anyone who likes to read!
LongTimeFanNY More than 1 year ago
A good read. More a series of interwoven stories than a traditional novel. The stories/storylines influence each other, some directly, others indirectly. Past and present are presented in no particular order. This flipping back and forth between the times before and after the apocalyptic event emphasizes the order within chaos concept that is center to the overall story and drives home the fragile, transitory nature of life and all we take for granted.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful! Emily is such a gifted writer. Engaging and beautifully written, STATION ELEVEN has something for everyone-a little sci-fi, dystopia, heartache and survival. I will recommend this book to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though i am only 13 years of age (About to be 14), i would highly reccomend this book. This book is appropriate for ages 15 and up. Though there are some obscenities and graphic violence, this book will open your eyes to a whole new world of literacy. The author is honetly a genius, this peice of writing is absolutely preciously valuable.
Artistwriter More than 1 year ago
Not entirely what I expected, the novel has many more layers and depth to it. This is a story for those who appreciate character development as opposed to violence and clichés.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderfully composed sci-fi story about how civilization in general and both decent and not so decent individuals fare when civilization as we know it collapses suddenly due to a worldwide calamity. Endlessly interesting. Satisfying how all the main characters eventually interact with each other either directly or indirectly. Brilliantly composed without a wasted word. Lots of action too, but the human relationships , and how people are shaped and changed by adversity very much intrigued me. People reacting under pressure. Moments of tragedy and humor with lots of action as civilization suddenly collapses. A must read for sci-fi fans!
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
There is an expectation among those who research such things, that the end of world, as it presently stands, will not occur due to a war fought over oil, religion or politics. Its final gasp will not be due to nuclear fallout or global warming.  The end will come because of a natural occurring virus against which 99.99% of humanity has no resistance. That is the premise upon which Ms. Mandel launches what has all the markings of a remarkable trilogy.  How humanity was whittled down to potentially extinction levels is of less importance in this story than how those who lived respond to being survivors of a sparsely populated world. The book opens with a production of Shakespeare’s King Lear at Toronto’s Elgin Theater. The death of the lead actor, Jeeven Chaudhary, star of stage and screen, from a heart attack during Act IV, is a death unrelated to the pandemic but it does set the tone for what will happen after the devastation the flu strain will bring is complete.  This flu is so contagious, incubates so quickly and is so deadly that humanity has no chance of responding; Shakespeare is timeless & humanity has been responding to his works for centuries. One of the book’s over-arching themes highlights the difference from the “temporary” from the “transcendent.” Kristen Raymonde is an 8-year-old bit player on stage when “King Lear” has his heart attack. In “Year 15,” as time is now measured, she is a member of a traveling Symphony and Shakespeare company. “Cities” are made up of groups of more than 100 and are typically centered around buildings constructed to serve people – former gas stations, fast food restaurants and big box stores. Houses, for reason’s unclear are shunned and allowed to dilapidate after being repeatedly searched. Everyone who survived Year One is leery, paranoid and guarded. As the troupe is on constant tour, they see the stagnation of humanity and are on constant alert for fear of a reoccurrence of “what happened.” In response to what she sees Kristen ponders if, perhaps, “humanity should pass from existence.” At each stop, the Company performs - music one night, Shakespeare the next. The story is told in flashbacks each “visit to before” sheds light on how those still living came to react as they do, how seeming disparate events and elements were not as random as they first seem, everything and everyone is connected to the present. Life is reduced to its basics – food, water, shelter, community. One goes to bed at dark and rises with the sun. Questions so important when “everything worked” are revealed to be empty, replaced by deeper ponderings of faith, power, beauty and trust. The survivors are no longer connected to possessions, having learned to treasure what is of real value. Religion is still alive in this new age, as is the genuine faith sometimes found in its practitioners. What is more often the case, however, in this tale of warning, is one’s “religion” gives credence to delusion. Prophets abound, their followers seeming to find safety in following the words of one who “hears the voice of god” and will obey what this prophet says, even if it means violating every moral and value they possess. The book ends with many questions answered and new paths discovered.  The “end” did not feel like a conclusion, Kristen’s angst was confronted with hope.  I would like for this journey to continue, but if Ms. Mandel brought her readers to the intended place of parting, it is a good spot to rest.  
Drewano More than 1 year ago
I’m a huge fan of the post-apocalyptic genre and I’ve read tons of books but none like “Station Eleven” and I guess that’s because I would say that it doesn’t fall into this genre.  Oh don’t get me wrong it take place just before and after the Georgia Flu has killed 99% of the world’s population, but it’s not about that at all.  Some books take you thought the collapse of civilization some only show the aftermath but this book takes you right through it but it completely glosses over it.  One character rides it out his brother’s apartment one in an airport but the author keeps us confined in these areas.  When people do leave we only hear what they say when they come back and don’t get to see what goes on for ourselves.  Even the news reports the reader hears are broad generalizations.  This book is all about the characters, their interactions with each other, how their lives intertwine and their actions and regrets in this fleeting world.   It’s was written and thought provoking and sometimes frustrating (the biggest example is the lack of discussion of the evolution of The Prophet being huge missed opportunity) but overall a great example of modern literary fiction.
karatepen More than 1 year ago
This is brilliantly constructed novel with great complexity of characters and time lines. St. John Mandel intertwines her characters and time with ease flow and great love for the integrity and ambition of the theme she tackles. I was intrigued by the characters plot and had trouble getting emotionally involved.This is a novel of desperation,trust and hope in relationships that help all of us survive in different levels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am only 200 pages into this book but I can already tell I'm going to be sad when it ends. The author has masterfully created a post civilization world that forces the reader to examine their current life and wonder what it would be like to live without the luxuries we have come to expect. This book isn't gross or creepy just a wonderfully organized plot that keeps you hooked. I can't wait to see where it goes but I also never want it to end. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A key quote from Star Trek in this beautifully written and more upbeat post-apocalyptic novel. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My previous review indicating this was drivel was premature. After the first 50 pages the sgiry picks up and the writing also improves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is a fine line between hoe and despair in post apocalyptic noves and she threads that path perfectly. So much that it makes you think...if the worlrd were to end next week : would you be happy witj your life?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book! So fantastic and beautifully written!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I HAD TO READ IT FOR CLUB. WHAT A STRUGGLE.
Haziegaze More than 1 year ago
I was really looking forward to reading this. I have heard and read rave reviews about how fantastic it is so was chuffed to bits when I was provided with a copy from Netgalley via the publisher, Picador, and I settled down to read. What can I say? Is there something wrong with me? I just didn't get it. I don’t know why but it just didn't grab me at all and, I'm sorry to say, I found it boring so much so that I skim read parts just to get it over with a bit quicker. I recognise when I am not enjoying a book because I find myself subconsciously finding other things to do rather than read and I did this quite a lot whilst trudging through this book. The characters, although well written were just not that interesting and I found myself not caring what happened or happens to them. I found the whole thing a mix of different stories which was confusing and just didn't seem cohesive.  Maybe it was partly because it was told from different points of view with no central character. Maybe it was the Shakespeare - I'm not a huge fan.  Maybe it was a bit too “deep” for me … I'm a simple person who reads purely for enjoyment and I don’t want to have to think too hard to find complex meaning … my job is taxing enough on my brain, I don’t want it to be overworked! This book received so much hype that I think it raised my expectations and I was just left feeling flat and unconvinced and actually rather sad. I even left it a few days before writing this review because sometimes if I give it a few days to reflect on what I've read, it sometimes helps but unfortunately not in this case - it just didn't do it for me at all. I realise that I am in a minority here and there are loads of people who love this book so I suggest you give it a go and make your own mind up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished this. It was good, but confusing at times. Don't really like the back and forth. Really makes you think about the little everyday items you would lose and what could become important. Is remembering important? This could apply today. I would probably read this author again.
AymTru 4 months ago
A post-apocalypse with a heart? That's how I would describe this narrative as the story sweetly navigates a heartrending situation with a mixture of reserve and intrigue. So foreign is the novel (locally) yet, such a frequent wake-up call
bookworm919 7 months ago
I loved this book and am so sad it is over. Everything about it was just wonderful, the writing, the characters, the story. There are so few books I want to reread, this one I wanted to reread it before I was even half way. One of my favorite books of all time.
KateUnger 10 months ago
I have never read a book like this before. It's more a series of snapshots than a cohesive story, and yet, I loved it. It follows a handful of main characters all centered around one man who died of a heart attack the night before the world ended. I was riveted by the details of this post apocalyptic world. Unlike most stories of this kind, it was a very realistic portrayal of the near future (assuming a pandemic were to break out) vs. a distant, new social structure type future. The story is not laid out linearly. Instead, it jumps around a lot, both in time and with characters. But somehow the genius of the details and the way that everything was so intricately woven together made up for this non-traditional writing style. I was annoyed by some of the flashbacks especially when they seemed unrelated to what had just been happening, but in almost every case the back story proved valuable. Also, Mandel writes about the things I've worried about with the end of civilization as we know it: living without glasses (my biggest fear), surviving after essential medications aren't available, and trying to navigate streets full of abandoned cars in a wheelchair. This is a story about real people dealing with the real struggles of life without electricity, cars, and telephones. At times, especially in the beginning, I wanted more plot, but then I kind of accepted the ambiguity of the story. I let the characters wash over me. Listening to the audiobook made this a little easier. I really enjoyed all of the characters, even the Prophet, the quasi-bad guy. The rich details made them all endearing. I was a little surprised when the book was over. I wanted more. More information, more developments between the characters, and more knowledge of the world 20 years after the collapse and beyond. http://www.momsradius.com/2016/04/book-review-station-eleven.html
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've read in YEARS. I won't go too much into the plot because you can read the description for that, but I'll just say that the writing itself is so beautiful. At points, this book reads like poetry or prose. But not confusing poetry. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this book will make you see the poetry and beauty that is everyday, mundane life. And then there are the characters. It's all about the characters in this book. The development is beautiful. The plot is narrated through various viewpoints depicting vignettes of the characters' lives. It's all stunning. I would absolutely recommend this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
archetype67 More than 1 year ago
4.5 Emily St. John Mandel has taken a more literary slant to her post-apocalyptic world than the bulk of them out there. You won't find many action filled scenes of crazed road-warriors or zombies or gun-toting survivalists chasing down the 'good-guys'. There are no long explanations of how society collapsed, instead the story focuses on a handful of characters, before and after the plague that wipes out most of the world's population. The major players in the story are all connected, yet they connect through tenuous threads, and there is no big moment where their stories converge. Kirsten was a child actor when the end came, and now, travel with a symphony and acting troop that performs Shakespeare and Shakespeare and his world - another impacted by plague - serve as metaphors. Arthur is an actor and has a heart-attack on stage the night the plague strikes. His ex-wives and his son, are three more threads. There is Arthur's friend Clark, and the paramedic who was in the theater that night. There is a comic book that ties several characters together, that impacts how they understand this new world. Mandel uses the plague to explore philosophy more than the how the world would fall apart and that is the power of her story. The rumination by characters on art and music, the value of items no longer of use, whether the past should be let go or taught, and so much more, all layered over the threads that connect the characters, seen and unseen. Mandel weaves back and forth between the past and the present, and moves from individual story to story, building the larger story. The characters are fully realized and they are a cross-section of flawed humanity. Mandel's descriptions of both the world before and the world after are beautiful and frightening and vivid. There is hope in the new world, but their is an arbitrariness that undercuts that hope. There is a brutality to the new world but there is also a beauty to it as well. In the end, Station Eleven is a novel of the end of the world, but more importantly it is about how that end impacts a few individuals. The focus never wavers from the personal and it is the power of Mandel's narrative.