Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel

I just can’t seem to get enough of post-apocalyptic fiction and Station Eleven was no exception. One winter’s night a well-known actor dies on stage performing King Lear. Hours later the world as we know it collapses as a deadly flu pandemic breaks out killing those who come into contact with it. Twenty years later Kirsten is an actress performing Shakespeare with the Travelling Symphony when an encounter with a self-proclaimed prophet threatens to disrupt their delicate way of life in a world without electricity, medicine or modern comforts. As the story switches back and forth from past to present the threads of the story slowly come together.


One thing that struck me about this novel was that it seemed a little more hopeful than your average post-apocalyptic tale. Don’t get me wrong this story did’t shy away from the harsh realities of life without civilisation or sugarcoat anything but there was an undertone of hope or maybe just a lack of desolation? There are still a band of people dedicated to bringing some joy and beauty in a broken world that still remembers what they have lost and who would have thought Shakespeare is what the post-apocalyptic society wants?


I loved getting to know each of the characters across the novel and learning about their stories before and after the end of the world. The storyline shifts across several characters from the past to the present as the reader watches the pieces slowly fall into place, which I loved and savoured. Their lives tell as story of humanity and life and the constant shift of whims and desires. How do we keep humanity in times of emergency? This novel explores some of these ideas in a beautiful, simplistic manner. The prose was beautiful and the mood and tome were superb keeping the story flowing towards the climax.


My favourite chapter describes an incomplete list of all that has been lost in this post-apocalyptic world, which I found elegant and reflective. I haven’t come across a chapter like it in any other apocalyptic novel and thought it put so much into perspective, what life could be like should a similar disaster befall us. Some great concepts are also explore and touched upon within this story, such as is it worth remembering the past and all that has been lost or is it better to move forward and let the old ways slip away from the newer generation? So many thought provoking ideas flowed from these pages.


Overall, I would highly recommend this evocative and descriptive read. I found it a pleasure to read and devoured it in two evenings. Besides, how could I not fall in love with a novel that references one of my other favourite post-apocalyptic novels: The Passage. That being said, if you don’t typically read this kind of book I would urge you to give it a go as it is much more than just a post-apocalyptic story, it is literary and unique. I give Station Eleven four seahorses living in the Undersea.


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2 thoughts on “Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel

  1. ooh good review! I do have this book, I’ve heard it mentioned a lot so grabbed it at a second-hand book sale, but to be honest haven’t even got around to reading the synopsis! Will have to get to it soon 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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