The writing isn't anything special. I'm not mad at it, but it didn't stand out to me in any capacity. The timeline and the effort to exalt the miracles of modern life were admirable, but when it came to the characters and the plot line, I just really couldn't give a sh*t. Half the time I was reading about the past all I could think was "Why exactly am I reading this? Remind me why I care?". There were bits and pieces that stood out to me, but overall, the book felt pointless and dull, and I'm kinda salty that I read it.
There are a lot of dystopian books out there, but few that feel as real and possible as this one. St. John Mandel has beautiful descriptions and complex characters. Playing with time and the things we all take for granted now, she created a compelling story that you're never quite sure where it's heading.
Really enjoyed the premise of this book, and found the multiple timelines & character perspectives engaging, although some timelines & characters are more engaging then others... It was a quick & compelling read, but I had hoped the ending would carry more of an impact.
A finalist for the National Book Award , which was was/is widely read with critical acclaim
did not appeal to me. A dystopian genre set in Toronto and Northern Michigan covers a pre-and post pandemic world, centered mainly around a narcissistic aging actor whose on-stage
death coincides with the start of the pandemic. The characters loosely connected with this man struggle with grieving of the lost world they knew, and attempts to re-build their lives in an unfamiliar world. I felt better development of the survivors would have engaged the reader (me, anyway) more and feel more of a stake in their re-creation. Again, my criticism appears
to be in the minority and shouldn't deter a curious reader
Shakespeare doesn't do much for me and the notion of a troupe of Shakespeare actors traveling through a dystopian, post-apocalyptic landscape is just too goofy. I don't think I made it to page 50, when the characters were rehearsing their lines to King Lear....(groan).
I hesitated starting to read this book because I didn't think I would like or feel connected to a book about performers in a play. It sounded way too sci-fi-ey for me. I WAS WRONG. This book is fantastic. The first few pages I thought my fears were being realized and that I was not going to be able to finish it, but then after that initial section (of 2 ish pages) I could not put the novel down. A really fantastic read & it was very difficult to read anything afterward because nothing lived up to it.
It feels odd to call a novel about the apocalypse beautiful and tender, but that is exactly what Station Eleven is. It showcases the best (and worst) of humanity without tipping over into cheesiness. Mandel also captures the horrors of living in a post-apocalyptic world without leaning too heavily on gore and violence. Even if you're not usually into the genre, Station Eleven is worthy of your precious shelf space.
I read this because it was recommended by the BPL. Great read. Thanks for recommending it BPL.
I was expecting people to travel through time a la worm holes or a supernatural force in physics since this book is cataloged as time travel fiction. Alas, what they actually mean is that the story is told in shifting perspectives in different time periods. Bummer. I like time travelers.
I didn't believe I would like this book very much. I'm not into dystopian, end-of-the-world, post-apocalyptic books. But this. This was done so beautifully. I loved how it was written, choosing one point in time- the death of Arthur Leander, as the moment that the world ended. St. John Mandel took that moment and spiraled outward, both forward and backward in time, years before the Georgia flu ended the world, and twenty years after. The blurb on the back is a little misleading; it claims it's about a traveling symphony and a prophet. It is, but it's so much more than that. It's really about five or six people who were close with the actor who passed away- their lives before and after the virus that killed 99% of the world's population. Mandel weaves the stories so seamlessly that we don't know that the characters are going to collide with each other until a few pages before, because we're so wrapped up in their individual struggles and survival.
Mandel is frank with us about her story and the cost of the flu that rampaged across the world. Kirsten finds skeletons in their cars. In their beds. On the side of the road. Mandel shares the fates of random characters with us. A stagehand dies of exposure on the road to Quebec a week after Leander dies. Two little girls die two days later at home in bed. An entire airplane full of sick people lands and stays closed for twenty years. This seems harsh, but the end of the world as we know it would be tragic, and terrible, and horribly sad. It is made clear that some people are immune to the virus, and others survived because they were hidden away and prepared.
In the end, this novel is more of a feeling, or an impression. The second half of the book was constantly giving me goosebumps. Mandel keeps using words like impossibly, irrevocably, inescapable, inevitable, and others that completely set the tone of the novel. It conveys despair and the end of something, but possibly also a beginning of something else.
I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who specifically likes post-apocalypse novels, because this is more character driven than world-building, but here, it really works. Because, as Kirsten noted, "Survival is insufficient."
One of my most absolute FAVOURITE books. Mandel is a gifted writer who paints vivid scenes, and makes you care about each of the characters. A must read.
Station Eleven is definitely a thought-provoking book. It is written in such a lyrical way that it gently pulses in my head as I read it. The content in itself is worth five stars. All of the very different story lines (both in the present and in the past) are tied together in an interesting way. Even with the dream-like writing, the book felt very realistic to me. Station Eleven is a must read for anyone who likes realistic or dystopian fiction.
I enjoy survival stories. This one was not put together the way I expected the story to read, and I think that gave it an additional twist. The author was inventive about many of her creations, like the Traveling Symphony that toured along Lake Michigan area after the pandemic knocked out 99.9% of the population. I'll have to check out the other books she has written. The one thing that surprised me about reviews is that this survival story got a lot of rave reviews that I didn't understand. I personally preferred Lucifer's Hammer, for example, which Station Eleven reminded me of a lot. I recommend Station Eleven highly however.
It took a little time to get into this apocalypse tale. The interplay of characters through each stage of the pandemic-caused apocalypse eventually drew me in as I got to know them and the threads of their circumstances. The actor, Arthur Leander, was not the most interesting character, being outshone by others in orbit around him. I especially liked Kirsten for her humanity and killer survival instincts and Clark for his seemingly easy transition into survival. The narrative about Arthur acting while interacting with friends made my think. I can imagine an actor doing that but then thought "Don't we all do that in our lives?"
Fascinating, yet stressful, this novel captures your attention and doesn't let go! I have a friend who has read this in print and audio at least 20 times. An amazing debut novel. Hopeful, and realistic, for a dystopian futuristic novel.
Rose in PR
This book kept me riveted and wondering what was coming next. It begins with a play that ties our characters together and quickly turns to the real world where a disease throws hospitals and entire cities into quarantine. We watch our characters move from this play to a very new world, many of them without their loved ones. The storytelling jumps between chatacters and between times, constantly leaving you dying to find out where the other chatacters have gone while you're desperate to get as much information from the character you're reading at the time. I often find jumps like this very jarring, but this book was written so "smartly" (if that's a way of saying it), that the jumps easily flow and take you with them.
I heard this described as 'a sci-fi for people who don't like sci-fi.' Accurate. I would also say it's a hopeful tale for those who don't like sentiment. It's one of those books that's hard to describe when someone asks what you're reading. One of those books where you try and eventually say, "Just read it. It's good." So. Read it. It's good.
A mixed review from the bookclub. Some just couldn't get into it and felt that it was contrived and not as powerful as The Road. On the other end of the spectrum a reader thought it was powerful and made her grateful for the life she has. The most common statement was that they did not usually like science fiction but found it easy to get into.
* beautifully written
* chilling--the pandemic described in this book could happen RIGHT NOW
* but also uplifting--the plague survivors work to make the world a better place
* interesting ideas about the importance of creativity
* also, interesting ideas about the importance of community
Gentle post-apocalypse! A very good read.
There are many reactions one can have after reading a book. A sense of accomplishment, a greater understanding of the world, joy, incredulousness, sadness, even sheer and utter 'what the hell... what the bloody hell?!'. Station Eleven left me with an uncanny reaction. I raised my arms up high and shouted to whatever God was listening 'At last... my pain, suffering and torment are at an end! May this book return to whatever hell it was spawned from and trouble me no more'.
Station Eleven doesn't support (or need) a large cast of key players to tell the story of the end of civilization. In this case, less is more. Everything unfolds one non-linear puzzle piece at a time. You're shown this moment, then it's to the other size of the world for another moment, but then it skips ahead 15 years, and then back 10 years. It sounds disjointed the way I describe it but it absolutely works.
About halfway through, one of the characters references Justin Cronin's The Passage, which is another popular post-apocalyptic novel from a few years ago, but if I'm to compare the two, I like Station Eleven more. Telling the story of a shattered world in a way that doesn't disconnect itself from its humanity is to tell the story through the eyes of a small number of its inhabitants. Emily St. John Mandel manages this balance just right.
Short anecdote: At one point I was reading during a late night flight, and my surroundings were such that my sense of immersion was all too real. There was little to no chatter in the cabin of the plane due to the late hour, and the area outside my window was shrouded in close-to-pitch darkness. I could see a light here and there winking at me from the ground far below. For a story that's in part about the absence of people, I felt a genuine fear that I'm sure would not have occurred had I been reading on a cozy park bench during my lunch break.
I enjoyed this book much more than I expected I would. Lots of themes and plot lines on so many levels along with excellent writing. This was a worthy book club read and it generated a long and interesting discussion on humanity, family, fine arts, and parallels with Shakespeare's King Lear. I tend to shy away from anything resembling science fiction or post-apocolyptic but this book was well worth reading.
By basing this dystopian novel on the character of Arthur Leander, the author should have made him worth reading about. Instead he was a caricature of a self absorbed, adulterous, celebrity whose life was not very interesting nor did he have particularly worthy insights. While the quality of the writing was strong in parts there was literal no plot and the characters were not particularly well drawn. It is not a book I would recommend.