On a snowy night, an actor collapses during a play. A man rushes from the audience to help him. A young girl witnesses it all. A caregiver weeps because she is so much more. A relationship is ending it just doesn’t know how. And around the world a flu is rushing through the air like pollen and the next 48 hours are the end of the world as we know it.
There are no phones. No television. No cars or buses or planes. No internet. No Facebook. No updated status. All communication to the rest of the world, if there is a rest of the world, has
Whew. Station Eleven was the book I chose for my first book to read in 2015. I had read reviews, seen this book on the best of the year lists, and honestly could hardy wait to dive into the book.
Station Eleven is an extremely entwined dystopian novel of the world taken out by a flu virus that leaves only 1% of the population in its wake. The book focuses around the actor, his life, his wives, and the people who surrounded him. As the book goes on, you see that our main characters have all been connected to the actor in some way. The book flashes back to before the flu, and then to present time, where the years started over to One after the epidemic. It is now year Twenty. At times I do not like flash backs, but it works here. Kirsten, who was the little girl in the play, is now part of a Traveling Symphony that travels to areas where people are and the group performs Shakespeare. She is obsessed with all things about the actor who died the night before the flu outbreak, collecting whenever she can find them – magazine articles, newspaper clippings, and she has copies of the two graphic comic books that the actors first wife had created, the first one called Station Eleven.
Sound complicated? It is and it isn’t. There is much to love about this book. The threat of a world-wide flu obviously works and puts the fear factor in the novel. It is written in a unique way which I love, centered around a Traveling Symphony that merely plays for their passion for Shakespeare and music (and really… what else are you going to do in this new world?), there is also a group at an airport that have been there since their plane emergency landed there that twenty years ago. There is a group at a hotel that have taken over rooms as their homes and live as normal a life as they can. And there is a Prophet. A scary man who believes that those who survived the virus are chosen by God and he takes whatever he wants… whenever he wants… food, ammunition, women, and lives.
There is a moment towards the end… an “aha moment” that impressed me when I put a key plot together. I did not see it coming. I was impressed.
But… and I do hate but’s…
There are things I did not enjoy. After the beginning and the big flu scare… the rest of the book is fairly mellow. Any “crisis” is wrapped up too quickly and too neatly. The fear of this new world… is not much. There is also the fact that as you read you have to wonder why some of these groups did not do more… why did the group stay at the airport all that time? I get that they were scared at first to venture out, but after a few months/years wouldn’t you go out and see what is happening? And the book left me feeling there should have been more. I knew as I was reaching the final pages that there was no way this book could wrap up all the loose ends. I then thought that since this book had the same title at the first graphic novel in Kirsten’s possession that surely there must be a plan for a follow-up novel with the title of the second one…. but as of this writing, I seen no signs that the author has plans for a second book.
This review is longer than I had planned because there was much to say. I did like the book. Very much. I do think it needed more action. More scare. Yet I did devourer it as it is unique and I do love unique reads. I am glad I chose it for my first book of the year. If there is no more to this story, then it is one that leaves you with a lot to think about as far as what happened next, and maybe, that is the way the author intended it to be.
Dystopian lovers will enjoy this read and I do recommend it.
Ok, I think we need a spoiler page on this one. I want to talk about the book 🙂
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (September 9, 2014)
31 thoughts on “Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel”
Sounds interesting! Is it too much like The Stand, assuming you’ve read the Stand? (If you haven’t, you absolutely should).
A little embarrassed.. I have never read The Stand. I have heard it is a good one. Someday… 😀
I really like this book and felt that it needed a bit more as well. Without spoiling anything, I thought somethings resolved too easily and others were left open. It left me wondering if there was another book on the horizon too.
Yes I agree… I was surprised when things wrapped up to easily. Another book could take care of what is missing in this one as well as explain some open plots. Hmmm…. a spoiler page may just have to appear for this one. 😀
Interesting review. I do like a twist you don’t see coming – but the book does sound a bit disappointing in some other ways.
There just seems to be a lot going in one direction and then…. *space*
I too wasn’t as bowled over as everyone else. Definitely too calm! :–)
Yes. That is a great way to put it. Calm… just too calm.
I’m still looking forward to this one. I love dystopias, especially those where the majority of the world’s population is afflicted/wiped out with some devastating illness (wonder what that says about me!). I think I would agree with you, though, that neatly-wrapped crises are no fun. We’ll see what I think when I finally get around to reading it!
I am glad, do not let my thoughts deter you – there is still much to like about this one. 😀
I really loved the book. Personally, I thought the fear was lacking because so much of the book took place 20 years in the future. I feel like at that point they were just trying to rebuild everything. Glad you did enjoy it though.
That is a good point Cynthia… twenty years later, you might be kind of burned out on running. 😀
I’ve been reading what people have thought about this book and I’m afraid it won’t be for me. Stephen King’s THE STAND has been a favorite of mine for too many years to count (think I first read it in my last year of college) and it has so, so much…don’t think I could take the flu killing most of the earth and then kind of “now we are done”. I’ll still keep it in mind.
LOL. Perfectly understandable. 😛
This book is getting a lot of love but, for some reason, I’m not convinced it’s for me. I still want to give it a try, though.
I am glad I read it.
Great review! Well written and balanced. I actually liked the fact the the story bounced ahead in time to after the worst of the crisis — I thought it gave it a different spin than most apocalyptic stories. And wondering about what actually happened — like how Kirsten got the scar — was someone more unsettling than being shown the worst of it.
I am definitely making a spoiler page. I want to talk about the book 😀
Very balanced review! Save travels.
Thanks Candace 🙂
This is in my to-read stack and I’m really hoping I’ll at least enjoy it. I don’t read much dystopian fiction but found a few books last year that I liked a lot, so I added this one to my list.
I think you will. There is a lot to like in the book 😀
I’m not much of a reader of this genre but there’s so much buzz that it’s got my attention. I appreciate your review, Sheila.
Hope you’re feeling better. Have a great trip!
Thanks Mary, I am feeling better… it kind of went away. YAY!
Glad you enjoyed it. I don’t really read Dystopian, though.
You should be packing and not replying. 🙂 🙂
LOL I needed a break. I ran all day; pedicure, jeans for my hubby, packing, dinner for tonight, house supplies, Walmart, picking up my Mary Kay order, lunch with my son, sleeping pills from a friend…. now I am home prepping to make dinner but needed to hide on the blog for a bit 😉
I hope you know I was only messing with you.
You definitely had a busy day.
ENJOY dinner, and mostly enjoy your trip.
Yeah… I know. I am done for the night. My brain is fried. Tomorrow morning I will finish up 😀
I have to agree with your review! I felt like I really enjoyed this book, but..there were parts that were just so boring! I felt like the author could have spent less time on some of the flashbacks and more on the present day survival stuff.
Mandel is great at unique. Kind of glad to hear that you had “buts:” always helps me go into a book more realistically.
This was just chosen as the ‘Great Michigan Read’ for this year. I know I’ll be reading it and discussing (in depth and often!) a lot before the year is done. St. John Mandel has a few author events scheduled through this organization so I hope to meet her and hear her talk about the book.