Reviews

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

emilo's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional hopeful mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

amarettto's review against another edition

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5.0

This book had me utterly and completely spellbound from beginning to end. I wasn’t sure what to expect; the jacket’s synopsis appeared vague and too try-hard. As the novel unfolded however, it just had me marvel at how the book could basically not be described any other way.

This book tells a story, but I visualize it more as a reader watching a painting of time being created, with sections painted in non-chronological order. The beauty of it is in how intricately woven the characters, events, and symbols are, and how gracefully it is revealed at a time when you cannot possibly fathom how the connection could be made. Every time it was, it felt like a neat and perfect knot being tied of two loose ends. And this book just delivers that jolt of euphoria again, and again, and again…

I’m not sure if this book surfaced in my recommendations because of the current situation we live in i.e a global pandemic. Reading the beginning few chapters certainly gave me an eerie feeling, like it hit a bit too close to home. It had me imagine time and again what our own world would be like if a catastrophe such as the one in the novel had taken place instead of the mess we are in ourselves (a 1% mortality rate flu basically made our economy panic, and all of us feel like the world is ending, but apparently a 99% mortality rate flu makes life a hell of a lot harder for the survivors). The most frightening thought was looking up at the sky and imagining never seeing another airplane in it. It brings into question too just how relative joy and misery can truly be. The novel covers the lives of people pre and post-apocalypse, and for a few, both, and there is suffering in every point in time. There are also moments of relief and comfort, though rarely absolute happiness. The character evolution is mesmerizing. The timeline is peppered with death, and characters that all carry the notion that we are all just looking for familiarity, looking for home. If the world ends, for whatever reason, and you survived it, for whatever reason, the best you can do is hold your memories close to your heart, and find what can spark a sense of home in you still. You do this, despite the fact that “the more you remember, the more you’ve actually lost”.

Another favorite quote I’ll just leave here:
“She was thinking about the way she’d always taken for granted that the world had certain people in it, either central to her days or unseen and infrequently thought of. How without any one of these people the world is a subtly but unmistakably altered place, the dial turned just one or two degrees.”


At this point, it must be clear that I hold nothing but awe for this work. The prose is elegant, without being extravagant, which is something I mildly suspected might have been the case when I was introduced to the themes around the Shakespearean plays, art and cultural preservation, and the general moody tone of the book. There is some of this, but just the right amount to provide the romanticism, and esoteric flavor to it.

If you asked me whether I’d recommend this book, I’d ask you to whom I was doing so. I don’t know if I can describe it as a thriller, or suspense novel. There is no grand twist at the end. It was kind of suspenseful in the way that I was practically aching to have things pieced together, but there are some deeper themes to be noticed and appreciated. There are paragraphs you’d read and feel like your brain was gently stroked in a weird but pleasurable way. It’s fast and gripping and simultaneously steadily and slowly unfolding. If any of this sounds like a trip you want to take, I would very strongly urge you toward getting your hands on this Emily St. John Mandel bestseller.

minna20smith's review

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emotional reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

candlereader's review against another edition

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5.0

4.5 stars, rounded up. A very good read.

emiliejade_bigelow's review against another edition

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adventurous mysterious reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

hatsiu's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional sad tense medium-paced

3.0

isa_araujo's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional inspiring medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Loveable characters? Yes

5.0

clumsyhaze's review against another edition

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adventurous reflective medium-paced

4.0

kaiyakaiyo's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark emotional hopeful mysterious reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

not much to say about this one! if i had to compare, sea of tranquility was much more interesting and i liked it better, but this is a solid book as well! 

im sleepy so no long review; the writing is very nice on the eyes and the shifting perspectives actually really enhanced the story instead of just breaking it up for forced suspense like in some books. would recommend!

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justinkhchen's review against another edition

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5.0

5 stars

A beautiful tapestry of human experience under unusual circumstances, even though Station Eleven was released back in 2014, the very real global experience of 2020 propelled some of its 'what if' hypothesis to an eerily relatable stature.

Taking a much more lyrical approach to the post-apocalyptic fiction genre, Station Eleven focuses less on means to persevere, instead utilizes a nonlinear storytelling to intertwine a collection of intimate, soulful stories across space and time. I can plainly admit this won't be a book for everyone — this will primarily appeal to readers who enjoy character study; those looking for scenes of nonstop survival action will be greatly underwhelmed.

Art of all kinds (theater, music, painting, etc.) is a major underlining theme throughout Station Eleven, serving as a healing mechanism, as well as an escape for the characters, which simultaneously comfort the readers as we traverse between scenes of bleak hopelessness. Overall I simply adore what this novel has accomplished, it's cleverly assembled, and written with an approachable poetic flair that will leave an lasting impression. Excited for the HBO series!