Station Eleven

Hardcover, 368 pages

Published Dec. 31, 2017 by Subterranean.

ISBN:
978-1-59606-855-1
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4 stars (25 reviews)

Station Eleven is a novel by the Canadian writer Emily St. John Mandel. It takes place in the Great Lakes region before and after a fictional swine flu pandemic, known as the "Georgia Flu", has devastated the world, killing most of the population. The book was published in 2014, and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award the following year.The novel was well received by critics, with the understated nature of Mandel's writing receiving particular praise. It appeared on several best-of-year lists. As of 2020, it had sold 1.5 million copies.A ten-part television adaptation of the same name premiered on HBO Max in December 2021.

17 editions

That aeroplane!!

4 stars

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 …

Read almost in one go

4 stars

If not for food-, sleep- and toilet breaks I almost read this in one go. Harrowing and layered story that gives a surprising entanglement of characters.

Even days after finishing I still had ah-ha moments when I suddenly understood how and why some things happened and who was connected to whom.

Wish there was a sequel where you learn more about the characters. Some parts are eerily recognizable now we had a real pandemic.

Mind you; the book is not sci-fi! It is our world after a pandemic; no fancy, crazy tech is used or invented in the book.

A superb novel

5 stars

I have read many post-apocalypse novels, and this is one of the best. Where it differs from the others is that it includes a lot of contemplative ideas about memory and loss, about what we value in our lives. There are parallel narratives from before and after the apocalypse. The "disaster porn" element of it, where you imagine what it would be like to be one of the survivors, is superbly done. But the accounts of the everyday life of the characters beforehand are also compelling . Emily is just a great writer, she has that way with words that creates an internal voice you just can't stop listening to.

Like Margaret Attwood and Kazuo Ishiguro, this author is one of those writers who denies they are SF authors. I am an unashamed genre tribalist - conventions, cosplay, the lot. But it doesn't matter in the end. This is just …

Gripping Read

5 stars

This was recommended to me and I went in knowing very little about it.

I found it to be a really gripping novel; hard to put down. I was really excited to see how the characters lives intersected and how they handled the trauma of the devastating pandemic.

The book tells the story of the characters at various stages of their lives ranging from many years before the pandemic, to around 20 years after. This gives a really interesting perspective on the characters, and keeps the pace of the book fast and interesting.

Highly recommended!

Review of 'Station Eleven' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

There was a lot in this I really enjoyed. Interesting characters and a fascinating set of situations, all very tightly plotted and woven together in a system that slowly became visible throughout the novel. The structure and style of it has a lot of similarities to The Passage - something the book slyly acknowledges at one point.
However, I can only give this four and not five stars because the ending - or, more accurately, the climactic point of the narrative - feels too short and brief, almost perfunctory in the way it happens. When I was getting towards the end, I was thinking that I'd missed something in the blurb and this was just the first book of a pair or a series. There was enough going on and being built up I couldn't see how it could be resolved in that space - and I'm not sure it …

Review of 'Station Eleven' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

My book of the year so far - a wonderful read that I literally could not put down. The premise of a global pandemic is of course topical (although it was written before Covid 19) and I love a good post apocalyptic tale, but what is the most captivating element of the book are the story line threads that twist and tangle with each other.

Review of 'Station Eleven' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

I've read this book for two different book clubs, with about 6 years between each reading, and on both occasions I've come away feeling a bit 'meh'. On the plus side, it's easy to read, the characters have distinguishable names (e.g. no 'Jon' and 'John' who are completely different characters) and all the threads that run through it are tidied up at the end. Each character is distinctive and has their own flaws and background.

On the downside, there isn't really anything particularly new or special in this book. A virus that spreads rapidly and kills off >95% of the population has been done before, and it's unconvincing to have an infectious agent with an incubation period of a few hours which kills within a day - people would die before they could pass it on (at that speed you'd have a plane full of bodies on a long-haul flight). …

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