Friday, 12 October 2018

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel


Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
Published by Picador in September 2014.

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon US / Amazon UK

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is a bold vision of a dystopian future, frighteningly real, perfect for fans of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.

What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty.

One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whilst performing the role of a lifetime. That same evening a deadly virus touches down in North America. The world will never be the same again.

Twenty years later Kirsten, an actress in the Travelling Symphony, performs Shakespeare in the settlements that have grown up since the collapse. But then her newly hopeful world is threatened.

If civilization was lost, what would you preserve? And how far would you go to protect it?

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel is a different type of dystopian novel to those I have read previously. We jump around through time beginning on the night where a flu pandemic takes hold in America, moving forward up to twenty years after 99% of the world's human population has been wiped out, and moving back to well before the disaster primarily through the life of a Hollywood actor, Arthur, and his wives.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the chillingly realistic pandemic scenes describing the initial panics, blocked highways and overcrowded hospitals (and that aeroplane). The restarting timeline as civilisation begins to collapse was an effective device with elements such as the internet vanishing after so many days, electric lights going out forever, gasoline becoming unusable after Year Five - did you know that gasoline has a shelf life? The idea of survivors just walking and walking resonated particularly well as we see similar scenes right now of refugees escaping war in exactly the same way.

I was less impressed by pre-pandemic scenes, especially Arthur's pampered life and the time dedicated to describing the dystopian comics created by his first wife, Miranda. I understand their inclusion but didn't feel that they warranted so much attention. There is also excessive repetition in Station Eleven which got irritating in the latter half of the book and I felt that tighter editing could have been beneficial.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Emily St John Mandel / Science fiction / Books from Canada

12 comments:

  1. I was always interested in reading the actual disaster part of this book but the others bits before the disaster sounded a bit slow and dull, so I've never read it.

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    1. Those were exactly my thoughts as I read it. The post-disaster storyline had me completely gripped, and I was eventually speedreading the other bit!

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  2. I really can't imagine being around during a pandemic.

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    1. I sometimes ponder, but don't think I'd be of much use to anyone. More practical skills needed! Though I can bake my own bread!

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  3. I have wanted to read this for the longest time- I should probably just do so! Though I agree, the pre-pandemic stuff seems much less... necessary haha. I get a few flashbacks, but not tons of them! Great review!

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    1. It seemed mostly repeats of the same event I think but certainly give Station Eleven a try. The other side of the story is fab!

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  4. I started this book based on a recommendation and could not get into it. I put it down after a dozen or so pages.

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  5. I actually preferred the bits about Miranda's comics, and Miranda in general. :)

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  6. I actually have this one on my TBR because reviews have made me intrigued in this one. I do see how too much detail givens on the pre-pandemic side of things would bore me a bit too. And a shame about it being repetitious! But I still want to try it anyway xD

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    1. Absolutely! Station Eleven is definitely worth the read. There's some seriously unforgettable imagery

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