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Book Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

station eleven

Published in: 2014
Reviewed by Jen
Rating: 3.5 stars
Find it here: Station Eleven: A novel

A flu pandemic called the Georgia flu has killed off 99.9% of human population. Those who remain have had to learn to survive in a world without any modern day comforts. Apocalyptical and post-apocalyptic novels seem to be all the rage and Station Eleven is no exception. St. John Mandel’s fourth novel made many “best of” lists for 2014 and it was a National Book Award Nominee for fiction in 2014. The novel spans many years and weaves in various time points together from pre-apocalypse events to 20 years post-collapse.

This was an entertaining but not particularly novel idea for a book. I found the twists and turns fairly predictable although I did like how the author connected the various elements of the story together in the end. I have read a fair amount of post-apocalyptic novels and found Station Eleven to be a bit too optimistic and sugar-coated to be believable (or as believable as possible for these kinds of scenarios). Although there was mention of an “evil” prophet and some mild violence, there was no sense of real struggle or adversity that came through in Mandel’s version of the end of days (or beginning of days). Starvation, poverty, and violence were mentioned but often in mild or offhanded ways. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Walking Dead (and granted there are no zombies in Station Eleven), but it all felt just a little too rosy.

Those looking to this book for a good old apocalyptic novel will be disappointed. However, this book will appeal to many who don’t typically read this genre. It’s not really a book about world collapse, it’s a book about human connections, memory, and loss and there are true moments of beauty in storytelling related to these themes.

Have you read Station Eleven? What did you think? What are your recommendations for this genre?

Want to try it yourself? Find it here: Station Eleven: A novel