Book Review of Station Eleven

Station Eleven
reviewed on + 1152 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


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.