Book Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel ★★★★★

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“But these thoughts broke apart in his head and were replaced by strange fragments: This is my soul and the world unwinding, this is my heart in the still winter air. Finally whispering the same two words over and over: “Keep walking. Keep walking. Keep walking.””

Oh my god. This book. It was so amazing. I was expecting to like this book, but I had no idea it would be so moving and powerful. It is beautiful. 5 brilliant stars.

I loved everything about this book. The story, the structure, the theme, the message, the writing, the characters; each component was crafted so well, without being over the top. I really appreciated the subtlety and the humility with which it was written. It is very unassuming and at first, I was not prepared to be as blown away as I was in the end.

This is absolutely the most human book about a post-apocalyptic world that I have ever read. There are no zombies running around or larger than life violent gangs, no Fury Road societies or mutated animals. There are just people. The last 1% of the Earth’s population that was left alive. The exploration into their states of mind, their fears and hopes, their general humanity, is stunning. It is so gripping and engrossing, but so delicate at the same time.

They are all just ordinary people with ordinary lives. Lives that are suddenly changed by a very realistic threat. This is easily one of the most authentic speculations on the end of the world, as well. I could 100% imagine this flu epidemic scenario happening and that is a truly terrifying thought. The stories of these individuals (we follow about five different perspectives throughout the book) are so well written and all woven together in this before and after look at the end of the world. The structure of the plot and how the author has seamlessly connected all of her characters and timelines is brilliant. It was so satisfying to see each thread come apart and back together into a single narrative.

The research in the book is impressive, giving the reader such a realistic end of the world scenario. The author thought about how air travel would bring the flu, how it would quickly spread in the cities, how the power would eventually go out, how people would come together and rebuild societies, how human nature would react to certain situations, how people would try to explain the past to children who never saw it. It was so philosophical and thought provoking! The author thought of everything and made it seem so plausible. It really does give you a chill just considering it. I loved how one of our main characters is a Shakespearean actor after the epidemic, traveling around the country with a caravan of other actors and musicians. It is so important to keep art, humanity, culture, and elegance alive, and the author did an amazing job capturing that. The quote that is used by the travelling group, “Survival is insufficient,” (which is from an episode of Star Trek, they explain) came across so profoundly in this novel.

I really liked how we were not coddled during this reading experience. The author kind of drops us in this world and lets us pick up the pieces throughout the book, through the different narratives and flashbacks. There is an element of mystery and suspense, but ultimately, it is a slice of life kind of story where we are just following along in a few character’s lives for a short amount of time. The ending has no giant resolution or moral lecture, but it is extremely hopeful and moving. I was not expecting such a powerful, yet simple, story when I picked up the book. It reads so authentic and so optimistic at the end, that it made the rest of the book, though frightening, seem not so bad. The end of the world does not have to be tragic and terrifying and violent. It might not be the end at all. The way some of the character arcs resolved was so satisfying, too, and again, so real/human. Even characters I didn’t like at first somehow made me care about their endings, made me empathize with them. The author is truly gifted at writing characters that seem like real people, never embellishing or sugarcoating, but making them effortlessly relatable.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book. I have not stopped thinking about it since I finished reading it and I would recommend it to anyone. It was masterfully done.

Where do you think all the cats went? After the world changed forever? I hope they were okay, too.

What did you guys think of this one?

Happy reading!

Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Genre: Fiction | Science Fiction| Post Apocalyptic | Sci-Fi | Adult | Speculative Fiction
Publication Date: September 9th, 2014
Page Count: 336 pages
Buy It: Wordery Book Depository

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