Book Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

DAY ONE The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the earth like a neutron bomb. News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%. WEEK TWO Civilization has crumbled. YEAR TWENTY A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe. But now a new danger looms, and he threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild. STATION ELEVEN Moving backwards and forwards in time, from the glittering years just before the collapse to the strange and altered world that exists twenty years after, Station Eleven charts the unexpected twists of fate that connect six people: famous actor Arthur Leander; Jeevan – warned about the flu just in time; Arthur’s first wife Miranda; Arthur’s oldest friend Clark; Kirsten, a young actress with the Travelling Symphony; and the mysterious and self-proclaimed ‘prophet’. Thrilling, unique and deeply moving, Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven is a beautiful novel that asks questions about art and fame and about the relationships that sustain us through anything – even the end of the world.



Since being recommended Station Eleven by a fellow blogger, it was one of those situations where it was suddenly everywhere. Making use of Amazons 3 books for £10 deal, I snapped it up and immediately delved into the story, really hoping it was going to live up to the hype. I wasn’t disappointed.
Station Eleven was one of those books that you really can’t put down, I looked forward to my lunchtimes and evenings where I could re enter the world that was so different to our own. I never had given much thought to post apocalyptic novels before, thinking them always a bit far fetched and depressing. This one seemed different somehow. The characters were hardy and likeable, in a toughened way, and the plot wound its way between pre “collapse” in America as we currently know it and post “collapse”, nearly 20 years into the future. The story gives a brilliant description of life as a nomad travelling through an unrecognisable America without any of the luxuries we take for granted such as transport, electricity, medicine, government or law.

Like some of my favourite novels, the characters have overlapping storylines which subtly come to light as each page is turned. Though the story could be very dark and depressing, it is written in quite a matter of fact way that really made me think about quite how lucky we are and how convenient it is to live in a modern society. I love that the story focuses on survival, friendship and the continuous thirst for more, most especially the continuation of Shakespeare and the arts which are a rare but still admired and wonderful highlight.

The title of the book acts as a continuous thread which winds amongst many different intertwined lives and is a subtle constant in every major character. The book was enlightening and thought provoking in many ways I didn’t expect and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

Rating: 9/10

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