Review: Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel

Station ElevenI always go in to post-apocalyptic/dystopian books dubiously. I have a very mixed relationship with them and I feel that the hype surrounding the genre now often means that you get a not so well constructed book. That there is hype around it because of where it’s set and not the content. This wasn’t the case for Station Eleven.

Station Eleven gives you everything that you need to know for it to not be left with too many open ends. We start with Arthur Leander, on stage, performing King Lear and he just drops down dead (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s in the blurb and happens in chapter one!) This is seemingly a catalyst for the end of the world; from here everything falls apart but we don’t really understand the full timeline until the final chapters of the book. Then you progress to 20 years later and follow a capsule civilisation – the Travelling Symphony – a group of performers who have found eachother over the years since the apocalypse and they too perform Shakespeare; travelling up and down and across the US taking their show on the road.

I was at first dubious about the bouncing back at forth opposed to following the story chronologically but actually, I felt it worked really well the way it was set out. I settled in to it really quickly, the first 100 pages just breezed by but then I started to struggle through the next 100. The prose however was beautiful and what kept me going. I was very quickly re-immersed in the storyline; I enjoyed the connections between the characters. The little things that bound them together, whether they knew it or not. One thing that disappointed me is we never got to see all of the characters come together – not quite. I know that would have been cliché but I was holding out for a complete character meetup!

Ultimately, this book was great. It wasn’t quite perfect, I feel that there were a few things missing and that it maybe could have been a smidge longer. I don’t know. But it’s a comfortable 4/5 from me! A review that you should listen to is one by Jen which actually got me to buy this book; she’s far more eloquent about things like the intertextuality than I am so I’ve not even tried and will instead point you in her direction – here.

Also, this cover is beautiful. Has to be said. It can be a little gross, it’s white and shows all the marks (reading it while having nutella on toast for breakfast was a bit messy and required a gentle wipe down with a wet wipe after!) but it is just gorgeous & does address so much of the book’s content believe it or not.