Rescored from a 4 to a 5. I think about this novel all the time since I’ve read it and I realized that I love it.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is the type of book that you take away what you get out of it, and I got a lot out of it.
5/5 21/25 Possible Score
Plot – 5(Strong)
Characters – 4(Fine)
Setting/World Building – 4(Strong)
Writing Style – 4(Fine)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 4(Strong)
Station Eleven is a light science fiction novel with a post-apocalyptic narrative. It deals with a group of people that are loosely connected to each other, that live, or have lived in the area around Toronto’s Great Lakes region. A world wide virus pandemic has occurred and there are not many people left alive. Electricity, gasoline, and many of our modern conveniences are completely gone. However, a small traveling group of individuals, actors and musicians, travel from small outpost city to small outpost city, performing Shakespeare and playing classic music.
As the reader, we get a glimpse into the lives of these people before the pandemic and what has happened to them after the pandemic. Some are in the Traveling Symphony, others are held up in an airport, and some are traveling to find a new home. However, each one of them have something in common, hope.
First thing I would like mention about Station Eleven is that this book has more in common with literary fiction than science fiction and that is why I called it a light science fiction novel. I guess you could classify it as a dystopian novel but there are just as many chapters about the past, as there are about the present post-apocalypse world. That said, I would expect this book to always be found in the general fiction section of the bookstore and not in the science fiction section of the bookstore.
I really liked Station Eleven. I felt like I was reading a regular fiction book most of the time while reading. I mostly read SFF, so this was a good change of pace for me. The point of view changed often and we got a look into the lives of multiple people. For me, the book really compared and contrasted these people’s lives before and after the post-apocalyptic event happened.
Station Eleven was a book full of theme for me. I got to interpret a lot of what the book was trying to tell me and I really enjoyed that. Many of the books I read are not up for interpretation but Station Eleven definitely is and that is the main selling point for the book. The main theme that I believe the book was trying to get across is that we are more connected to each other than what we think. In our normal life, it is mostly our family, and a few friends that make up our circle of relationships. If that circle was suddenly destroyed, because of a pandemic, the things that tie us to the past with current relationships could be really small. For example, a comic book called Dr. Eleven: Station Eleven connects characters that don’t even actually know each other in a way that gives them hope. A former popular actor, that died just before the pandemic hit, has connections to every one one of our characters. Each one is either related to him, friends, or just mere acquaintances before the pandemic, but after the pandemic, this one person ties this entire group together. I found this message profound, that we are more than family and friends, we are a part of something bigger.
Another important theme in Station Eleven is to preserve art and the past. The Traveling Symphony performs Shakespeare in small little towns, made out of a hotel, or a gas station, and it gives those individuals a reprieve from the life of hardship that they now must endure. Art, even in the most desperate of moments, can lift our spirits, and give us hope for something better. It really showed to me what is really important in life. I can lose electricity, my computer, this blog, but art will remain. My books and stories will still remain in the world. Theater and music will still remain to lift people up.
The last theme I believe Station Eleven is trying to get across to the reader is that it is the small moments in life that matter the most. It is the moments with family and friends that are so important. Working an extra job so that a family can have hi speed internet and a family phone plan is not the most important thing in life. The most important thing in life is spending time with those we love.
I would recommend this book to people when they are in an introspective mood. If you want to read a book that makes you think about life, this is the book for you. This is not the book for you if you want to read an action packed dystopian novel. I thought this was just going to follow a group of actors around performing Shakespeare, but that is a very small part of this book. Learning about these individual’s lives before the pandemic and after was fascinating to me. Many post-apocalyptic books focus on the large overall picture of the world but Station Eleven focused more on the small things. The small things that we take for granted every day and I for one will try not to take them for granted anymore.