“The king stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored.”First line in Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Synopsis: Set in the days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the 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 a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.
Hello, people. Hope you’re having a great day. I debated with myself whether I should write this review or not, because it’s not a book I have that many feelings about. I finished it a week ago and I only now feel like I have my thoughts in some kind of order.
I gave Station Eleven 3 stars which means it was alright. Nothing more, nothing less. To give you more of an idea of what is behind those 3 stars, I’ll tell you what I liked and disliked about the book. We’re starting with the negative.
- Missing Plot
It is a very character-driven story. Not a whole lot of plot in there, which I was waiting for, because it’s a dystopian. The genre just implies that there has to be a maniac who wants to kill or control everyone. Station Eleven is not that kind of dystopian. There was a hint of a plot at some point which got me really excited but it was resolved too quickly and rather effortlessly.
- Jumps In Time
This is a personal preference but I don’t enjoy stories that jump around in time. It breaks up the story too much for me. I’ll always prefer to stay in the present and just be told about things of the past. In Station Eleven, we go back and forth a lot so we follow characters both before and after the collapse of civilization. I’d rather just have followed the characters after.
- The Contemporary Feel
This might sound odd, but this book felt like a contemporary to me. We spend a great deal of time with the characters before the collapse and isolated, those parts feel like an ordinary contemporary. Not that I hate contemporaries but that’s not what I came for, if you know what I mean.
- The Writing Style
Mandel has a very pleasant writing style. Even when I wasn’t very interested in the story, she kept me reading because it just felt nice to read. It wasn’t too flowery and had a good flow to it.
- World Development
I really liked how we were told about the collapse of civilization. It was probably my favorite part of the book because it was sprinkled throughout the entire story. I liked how Mandel really tied it to individual characters so we see it from their point of view instead of it becoming an overarching thing.
- The Characters
We follow a large group of characters and they are all very well written. None of them are two-dimensional and I liked how Mandel made it clear how flawed they are. Each in their own way. I will say, however, that yes, I liked them, but I didn’t completely love any of them. Some of them, I was even kind of indifferent about but I still enjoyed reading about them.
I think I went into this book with the wrong expectations and that effected my experience of it. It’s by no means a bad book. I just wanted it to be more than it actually was. It’s a different dystopian than what I’m used to, and to some extent that was actually kind of refreshing. It was nice to see that there are other types of books within the genre than just the Hunger Games kind.
I think a lot of other people would give Station Eleven 5 stars. I would recommend it to those who prefer reading character-driven contemporaries or literary fiction, but don’t mind it when there’s a little twist of something from another genre. It would also be a good book if you’re trying to branch out and want to begin reading some dystopian or science fiction.