Rated Reads

Station Eleven

by Emily St. John Mandel

Rated: Moderate

It’s difficult, I think, to write a linear plot summary for Station Eleven. There’s a pandemic, obviously: the world has to end somehow. An aside: I think it’s interesting that the way the world ends in fiction these days is through sickness or climate change rather than some horrific nuclear event. Times have changed since Canticle for Leibowitz.

Anyway, a pandemic — Georgia Flu — sweeps through the world, with a 99 percent fatality rate. It kills within 48 hours of catching it, so it doesn’t take long. That simple thing changes the world. Station Eleven follows an actor, Arthur, and everyone his life touches — ex-wives, son, paparazzi, best friend, the child actors he was in King Lear with — before and through the pandemic, exploring the connections between them and the way everyone handles the New World.

The book is less about the pandemic or the world collapsing as it is about the connections between people. The action flips between before the pandemic to 20 years after, only vaguely hitting upon the time in between. There was enough movement to keep me interested; the huge cast of characters was always doing something, and the non-linear plot helped with that as well. I think it was an intriguing reflection on the way our lives touch one another, how seemingly random occurrences to one person have great significance to another. Admittedly, there were times when I didn’t get the connections: the paparazzo’s story, for example, was so disconnected from the rest that I wondered why his was included. But for the most part, I found the book to be an intriguing examination of connection and humanity in a time of crisis. It’s a bit meandering, but otherwise, it’s a good crossover story, and I’d give it to a teen interested in the post-apocalyptic genre.

Rated: Moderate. There are a half-dozen f-bombs, spread throughout the second half of the book.

— Reviewed by Melissa Fox

Melissa Madsen Fox's blogging career began in 2004 when she started Book Nut. Reading, reviewing and book blogging have taken over what's left of her life after being a stay-at-home mom to four rambunctious daughters and wife to a slightly- absent-minded professor of political science.

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  • Station Eleven
  • by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: