Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Friday, May 8, 2015

Review: Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

Publisher:  Harper Collins
Released: 2014
Source: Personal Copy
Pages: 320
Rating: 3/5

Station Eleven is a post-apocalyptic book, and the story starts out really strong and believable. Jeevan Chaudhary attends a play featuring, a famous actor named Arthur Leander. During the middle of the play, Arthur has a heart attack and dies. Jeevan leaves the theater and heads home, and receives a phone call from his friend that he needs to get out of town, fast.  A plague has hit North America and within hours, those who are symptomatic are dead. Station Eleven tells the story of Arthur, Jeevan and a group of actors who roam around the ruins of this post-apocalyptic world.

Station Eleven started out really strong for me as a reader. Once the plague hits and everyone is panicking, it becomes very believable and real. Unlike many post-apocalyptic stories, you don’t just read about the “after,” you live the demise. This was my favorite part. Mandel explores before, during and after the pandemic.  While I loved those parts of the book, I didn’t completely love it.

All the character’s that remain are connected to Arthur Leander which seemed a little odd when 99 percent of the population is gone. Arthur is explored throughout the novel, and it felt like a character study of him. The post-apocalyptic world wasn’t really explored as much as I would have liked. Mandel likes to allude to these “horrible” things that happened to one of the characters, but she never explored or explained those things. As a reader, I wanted to know. The prophet could have also been explored more in my opinion. I felt like the action started and stopped right away. The book remained more about Arthur than anything else.

I liked this book, but it wasn’t a favorite and I really felt like it was overhyped for me. It started out really strong, and then I just kept waiting for something to happen. I think it’s worth the read, if you’re interested. I kept reading, I didn’t want to put it aside, but I had issues with the book. I have read and reviewed Mandel's Last Night in Montreal, and I would like to try her other books as well.


  1. I agree with you that it was over-hyped. I had a hard time getting through it. I'd seen it previewed at a presentation by a Random House rep and he predicted this would be a 'book of the year' type read. I really didn't hear all that much about it when it came out, but I know I was left disappointed in it once I'd read it.

  2. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to go someplace thoughtful, and also anyone who wants to appreciate an expertly crafted tale. It jumps around, but the travels back and forth through time only made the story more powerful. This isn't in a genre I usually read, so I'm glad I gave it a chance. I'm sure I'll re-read this one again and again.

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  3. My husband had read do many post apocalyptic books but he hasn't tried this one. I would like to read it and know it had been popular but wondered if it was over hyped. I will still read it but I liked your review and won't expect to be bowled over 😃