Snap Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Title: Station Eleven

My rating: 4/5


An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding 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.

Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

Snap Review:

I am always a fan of post-apocalyptic novels and Station Eleven did not disappoint. The timelines, backstories, and character development were woven seamlessly in what I thought was a fast-paced read. With lots of talk about viruses, illnesses, and general thoughts about our planet, the potential reality of what that could look like was described hauntingly and believable. The parallels between the graphic novel being created in the midst of the pandemic allowed for clear connections of of the past and present. I was amazed with the world that was created, having a group of rebels for lack of a better world as well as those who lean into a religious messiah and unknowing converts. In a world now chaotic, it makes sense that these 2 camps at minimum are created to make sense and have some power structure – something to follow. What we teach ourselves in times of survival is extraordinary and makes us hold on to other memories we did not think we would ever have to. I would have loved to see more of the interweaving of the main characters tied up in the end. We’re left to wonder about a couple of characters and their fate but can still feel some closure when the last page is turned. The quotes below gave me some feels in a bigger picture sense, check them out:

“(b)ut the hero is Dr. Eleven, a brilliant physicist…He is a person from the future who never whines. He is dashing and occasionally sarcastic. He doesn’t drink too much. He is afraid of nothing, but has poor luck with women. He took his name from the space station where he lives. A hostile civilization from a nearby galaxy has taken control of Earth and enslaved Earth’s population, but a few hundred rebels managed to steal a space station and escape… There has been a schism. There are people who, after 15 years of perpetual twilight, long only to go home, to return to Earth and beg for amnesty, to take their chances under alien rule” (83)
“The house is silent bow and she feels like a stranger here. ‘This life was never ours…We were only every borrowing it'” (101)
“Kirsten slept fitfully, aware each time she woke of the emptiness of the landscape, the lack of people and animals and caravans around her. Hell is the absence of the people you long for” (144)

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