STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel
Updated: Apr 10
★★★★ (Mama Scale)
The "Georgia Flu" has ransacked the U.S. and taken with it humanity as we know it. Twenty years later, Kirsten, Jeevan, and Clark recall the night it all began and the threads that tie them together.
Wow. Just woweeee. What a beautiful, heartbreaking, deeply human story. Emily St. John Mandel delivered a masterpiece with this one. Although written five years ago, STATION ELEVEN carries with it a timelessness: What would we miss... if humanity, as we know it, all of a sudden came to a screeching halt? This is the question that ultimately remains as the stories of Kirsten, Jeevan, and Clark are slowly uncovered.
Reading this book was a serious treat for me. Not only was it brilliantly crafted but it caused me to really consider all that I have and all that I absolutely take for granted. I salute you Emily St. John Mandel for reminding me that everything we have is complete gift, but at the end of the day all that really matters are the gifts we give one another.
WHAT I LOVED: Absolutely, hands-down, the most profound aspect of this story is Mandel's beautiful illustration of human connection. From Kirsten's relationship with August to Clark' lasting friendship with Arthur, to Jeevan's love for his brother, the reader is gifted a real and raw look into how tragedy changes and challenges us. Mandel didn't stay away from questioning the hard topics and how survival makes heroes or villains out of us — or, in Kirsten's case, sometimes both.
I loved Elizabeth's "Station Eleven" comic and how this sub-plotline served ultimately as a greater analogy for life and survival, and I loved the pacing of the story. Mandel allowed us a peek into each of these three character's lives (including some other minor players), ultimately weaving them all together in the end. Nothing felt rushed or unwarranted. It was all just perfect.
WHAT I DIDN'T LOVE: There was really only one aspect of the story that felt unfinished to me: The sub-plot line of the Prophet. His character makes sense within the greater context of the story and I appreciate that Mandel reveals to the reader (in the end) how The Prophet is actually connected to everyone else. However, it felt at times like his character was simply a nod to the genre of Dystopian fiction, needing a named villain rather than developing a character that truly affected the plot line — which was really a pretty linear one. His character didn't really change my enjoyment of the book but I would've loved either more of him or really none of him at all.
The only other aspect of this story I couldn't quite wrap my head around was Mandel's illustration of "The Symphony." I understood the idea and loved the emphasis on culture being an important aspect of any society — one that would be necessary to a nation's sanity to carry on — but I did not love that some minor characters in the symphony got named and others were just referenced by their instrument. In the end, it fit with Mandel's style of storytelling, but it wasn't my favorite choice of hers.
Overall, STATION ELEVEN is a beautiful story about how, in the end, we really are way more connected than we think.
Yes. Absolutely. If you love dystopian fiction or a really solid character driven story, this one is for sure for you! Also — all the HYPE for this Audiobook production: ★★★★★!! Really beautifully narrated.
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