Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel


Jill's take on Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

This is another book we purchased on our spree at Powell's in Portland, Or. AND it's another "end of the world" tale. BUT, it is good. Really good. I was feverish in my reading of this book and truly enjoyed every minute of it.

Some books just pull you in and make you see and feel what is happening. Station Eleven is one such book. There are nuances to the characters and the story weaves deftly from before collapse to post collapse. You see the some of the characters as they were before their worlds were changed by a pandemic and then what they've become in the world following. 

This could be just another apocalyptic tale of humans being vanquished from the Earth, but it is so much more. I don't really want to say a whole lot about the plot of the book because I just found it so interesting. Maybe it's where I'm at mentally right now, but this really scratched an itch. Yes, there are tales of power and people behaving badly, but it's not gratuitous. You see these things happening in a "normal" world let alone in a world where the bulk of people have been wiped out. One thing that you see more of in this book than I've seen in others, is partnership and community once everything else falls away. People are there for one another and relationships form, loves exist and people form clans for security and nourishment. 

There's a question that flows through the story of those people who survived and had everything before the pandemic hit versus those who never knew anything else other than a post pandemic world. How do you describes the "things" and conveniences we had to someone who doesn't have electricity? How do you explain the purpose of airplanes and make someone believe these massive tin cans ever carried people up in the sky and around the world? It's a clash of modernity and primitivism that is so interesting and so well explored in this book. 

I would totally recommend picking up Station Eleven if you are looking for an engulfing, out of the ordinary apocalyptic tale.  

Zac's take on Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mendel

I really have to start writing these reviews before Jill - she just says it all and then I'm like: yeah, what she said!  Part of that equation is that I'm just not reading as fast as she is. Sometimes I'm caught up and ahead in the book reading (as full time travelers, we share books), but I never never write the first review. I just move on to another book.

So while I'm writing this, I'm looking at four more drafts of book reviews I still have to write and one for a book I haven't even finished yet. But I have my coffee and I'm going to plow through THEM ALL. I'm sure that'll make for entertaining reading.

So yeah, Station Eleven. It's magnificent. It's deftly written and moves you along with interesting plot twists. If this plot were edible, it would likely be a challah bread. You know that bread that looks like a braid? All of the characters are woven together into a seamless whole.

You get to see them in the day before the global pandemic hits and then you get to see how they move and change and reconnect in the twenty years after the collapse of the entire society. It reminds me of how absolutely tenuous the fabric of our world (or the world humans have created) really is. It's great that we have planes and the internet and electricity and medicine, but what if the people who know how to run these things are all dead? 

Do you know how to fly a plane? To set a bone? To string a bow and arrow? To find water? Once all the perishable food is gone, once all the canned goods are gone, what will you do? What about when the gasoline runs out or goes bad? When there are no more bullets? According to Emily St. John Mandel, you do what any sensible group of people does - you join a roving caravan of people who perform the works of Shakespeare throughout the small collections of people who survived in the midwest.