Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel #bookreviews

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the 20170404spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it. –

This novel has received much acclaim, but I’m always skeptical when so many people rave about a book.  I’ve probably read more post apocalyptic novels than the average person, some good, some not so much, but when I learned this author would be speaking at my local library, I took a chance and bought the book.  And it was so worth it.

This was a different take on the post apocalyptic world and I appreciated the fresh perspective.  The story moved seamlessly between different POVs and past and present and the contrast between those two worlds made me realize how much we take for granted in our every day lives.  Parts of this novel were alternately heart-breaking, humorous, haunting, and inspiring and I enjoyed learning how some of the characters shared connections – some of which they were aware and some not.

Part of the last half of this novel seemed to drift off the path slightly and I skimmed through several pages, but the story found its way again soon after that.

An extremely well-written book by one of the most eloquent speakers I’ve come across.

2 thoughts on “Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel #bookreviews

  1. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about this one. I’ll have to add it to the list! Thanks for sharing the great review!

    If you’re ever interested in some other awesome book reviews and musings, be sure to follow! Thanks!


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