Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel ★★★★☆

Read 11/19/19 – 11/20/19

This is another book I chose to read for Buzzwordathon 5.0, and you can read more about why I choose Station Eleven there! This is a story about a flu epidemic wiping out the majority of Earth’s population, and it follows a group of people as they cope with this new world. The characters are one of the strongest aspects of this story. We follow a range of characters, each of them seemingly connected to Arthur, a middle aged actor who has a fairly large popularity.

The story follows a few people, or groups, as they travel or attempt to create a settlement. A large part of the books feels like an attempt to recreate so level of order, if only locally. Mandel does a good job tying past events (we spend most of our time in year 20 after the epidemic) to the current predicament by showing us how different characters are connected. I have to admit, I found the structure more distracting at first than entertaining. I kept getting invested in characters and events. Then we would jump to a different person or a different time, and I struggled to keep up on whose who.

On top of that, I found the story too tame. Don’t get me wrong, it is a perfectly good story about the end of the world, but that’s been done before. I don’t understand why this book excels above the others like it? It could have been an episode of the Walking Dead, zombies aside. I do wonder whether my own expectations ultimately shaped my view here. For some reason (perhaps the starry sky in the cover), I thought this was a story about an epidemic and an attempt to create a settlement in space for humanity to survive.

Sadly (or not, depending on how you look at it), Station Eleven isn’t a literal thing. Rather, it is a symbolic place that one of our main characters thinks about during her travels, and it is one of the things that ties her (and others) to Arthur. I appreciated the intricate story telling. However, it didn’t reach my expectations (fair or not). Let me be clear, I really enjoyed the book, and I think it is definitely worth reading. It just isn’t one of my favorites. 4/5 stars.

4 thoughts on “Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel ★★★★☆

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