Station Eleven has received a lot of hype and accolades, and was listed on several "Best of 2014" lists. I do not disagree that this was a beautifully written and original story, but I suspect it will not stay with me - and hence, it earns that middle of the road rating of 3 stars. At the start of the book, the post-apocalyptic tale evoked fond memories of The Road. Others have made that same comparison to Cormac McCarthy but, for me, the comparison is short-lived. This book is literary dystopian fiction with a heavy emphasis on the literary and a marked dilution of the dystopian. That might not sound so bad, but these traits make the book bland, and the ending unresolved and unremarkable.
I was a bit disappointed in this book. I had read many of the glowing reviews and am aware that it was nominated for a number of book awards, so I was expecting a five-star book. At times, it felt like it could be, particularly when dealing with the conflict between the "prophet" and the Traveling Symphony. Those parts were suspenseful and kept me reading. Other parts, though, were really pretty boring. I didn't get the large amount of space devoted to Arthur, the aging actor in the pre-apocalypse parts of the story, He does provide a connection between some of the characters, but his life story just doesn't do anything to establish any empathy in the reader.
Other reviewers talked about humanity's inarguable need for art to make us human, but I didn't feel this theme was developed well enough. The Symphony travels around performing Shakespeare and giving concerts, but other than some of the audience crying during performances there really doesn't seem to be any effect to their performances. Another character sets up a museum of pre-apocalypse items in an airport, which people eventually come to see and/or contribute artifacts to the collection. However, again there is no sign that this has any effect on anyone.
The last aspect of the book that left me wanting was the Station Eleven theme. One of the characters published two science fiction comic books about a place called Station Eleven and a character named Dr. Eleven. There were some slight similarities between those comics and the post-apocalypse world, but if the book is named after one of those comics there should be a much stronger connection. I just didn't get that part of it.
I gave this book three stars because, for the most part, it kept me reading. I was curious to see if or how the world would recover from a very plausible disaster. The vital part that art would play in such a recovery was just not clarified enough for me.
This is a post apocalyptic story that feels like something that could actually occur. It hits very close to home.
99% of the world has died in a sweeping epidemic. The story follows the lives of a group of people - all interconnected although they don't all realize it.
Through flashbacks, we get both the pre and post epidemic lives of this group.
Very realistic. (No zombies!)
Im not really into post-apocalyptic novels, but this one had everything to keep my interest going: a vivid setting, realistic characters, and a plot finely woven between pre- and post-pandemic times. I often imagine if I were in a show like Survivor, or a character in the Hunger games, if I would have what it takes to survive. I think I'd stand a good chance, but how would the experiences change me? Would I have a more cynical outlook in life? Would I be an all-or-nothing cut throat? The arrogant narcissist? The one, who despite all the hardships, remains unchanged? This book really made me stop and think about the type of person I would become if I were to survive a world sans technology, loved ones, media or social order of any kind. The underlying message here is that we are more resilient than we think because "survival is insufficient." But how we choose (or are forced) to survive and live our lives anew is a horse of a different color.
I expected dazzle and substance from this highly praised National Book Award finalist, a book that one blurb called "darkly glittering". I was disappointed.
Mandel's determined attempt to be deep and important and oh-so-literary overwhelmed what might have been an interesting dystopian tale. The story tantalized with some interesting twists on the usual "end of the world as we know it" road trip, but these were, unfortunately, only superficially developed.
So it was the characters, not the deadly flu, that were supposed to be the focus of the story. The characters, however, were one-dimensional, even though pages of rambling, meaningless exposition were devoted to them. Mandel's prose overall was merely adequate, workmanlike at its best, clunky and awkward when it faltered.
The notion of "Station Eleven" (the ex-wife's graphic novel that gave the book its name) kept surfacing, but never seemed to lead to anything meaningful. Few things did. It all wrapped up with a rather puzzling and unsatisfying non-ending that some see as the promise (or the threat) of a sequel.
So, no dazzle, little substance. There are other books that offer better dystopian stories, better explorations of people and relationships, better writing. This one wasn't worth the effort.
I enjoyed this book, no real complaints (although the ending seemed to come out of nowhere) but was it National Book Award Finalist, five-star rating good? I don't think so, although I can't really articulate why. Definitely worth a read though, if you're into post-apocalypse fiction.
The story wasn't bad but I felt like so much was missing. If 99.99% of the population dies in a short period of time from a virus, where do all the bodies go? This was not mentioned in the book and it bothered me that there was no mention. I enjoyed reading Station Eleven but it left me unsatisfied.
I enjoy reading many different genres of books and post apocalyptic is one of my favorites. I'm a reader, not a writer, so this review may not entice anyone to add this book to their TBR list, but don't hold that against the book. It's a "2014 National Book Award Finalist."
The plot involves a virulent, almost instantaneously, spreading pandemic. The survivors must find a way to live in their new world. The story moves back and forth in time between the pre and post eras, following an actor, who is stricken in the first chapter, through the lives of people he knew, both well, and barely.
I found the number of characters confusing at first, (I made my own wiki to follow them,) but I loved this story in spite of and because there were so many characters.
There are no life lessons in this one, just a look at humanity in all it's forms
It's kind of like reading "The Time Traveler's Wife", although it's easier to follow. Lots of moving back and forth in time. According to her interview on NPR, she found the time 20 years after the flu to be more interesting than the immediate aftermath of the flu outbreak, but I found the flu outbreak descriptions to be more realistic and more interesting.
If someone would be so kind to tell me what the hell was going on in this book I would really appreciate it. Maybe I'm getting old or I was having flashbacks from the early days of college, but I have no idea what the point of this novel was. A lot of things went on, but none of it was all that remarkable. 99% of it was me saying "Who the frig cares?". I read a ton of post apocalyptic novels, this was not that. The author seemed to try to write some sort of mesmerizing literary fiction crap and fuse it with dystopia. It didn't work, it was a major epic failure. The writing was all over the place, the characters were flat and pointless, and the dialogue was utterly garbage.
Don't get me wrong there was a story in there somewhere that was dying to come out. However it was pushed down to the bottom of the trash bin and left to sit there and die a very lonely death. Even the climax of the story was horrible. It last 2.3 seconds with no emotion what so ever. At this time I really had no more fucks to give. I was angry and wanted to throw the book across the room. This is officially the WORST book I have ever finished.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel starts and ends with a Shakespearean play. In between, it goes between a present day world and a post-apocalyptic future. The book is a difficult one to describe. I am not quite sure why I liked the book as much as I did, but I do know that I had a hard time putting the book down and was sad when it ended.
Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2015/03/station-eleven.html
Riveting. I'm fascinated by pandemic-type disasters (sans zombies, thank you), and I thought the story was at its strongest when the author focused on the days and months immediately after the flu's arrival in North America. The life of the Traveling Symphony, and walkers in general, was interesting, too. Funny how the story revolved around the one person I was most disappointed with--Arthur. Still, a very good read at 4 stars.
I'm giving this one three stars but it's more like 3.25 or at tops 3.5 for me. I found it a bit disconcerting. The story line seemed fragmented at times. The author writes well making the book a quick easy read. I like that. However, I kept feeling that I must be missing something. When I read the reviews others have written I found that my reaction was similar in many ways. It seemed to take a long time for the author to flesh out the characters and in some cases I'm not sure that they ever were. I wonder if anyone else felt some of the characters were shallow.
The premise of a pandemic is plausible but in the days of mass communication I can't see how more people wouldn't have known how tragic this disease could be for the world's population. Yes, it strikes fast but I still wonder about that aspect. Anyway I was sad to see I didn't enjoy a book that has been celebrated by those who choose outstanding books. Nevertheless, I'm sure many others will love this read. The author's writing style is delightful.
Intriguing - and even in the worst of times, we are reminded how small the world really is. It certainly reminds us how very fortunate so many of us are. I wish the author would have spent more time with the memory Kane that Kristen and Clark would have had.
Severn City is a fictional place, Delano Island is not.