Book Reviews

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – BOOK REVIEW

Have you ever read a book that has you in awe from the moment you start it until the very last page? Station Eleven is that book for me.

I wish I could give this beauty a standing ovation. Mandel completely enamored me with her incredible prose and her ability to make such vivid characters that I instantly cared and worried for. There were many shifts in perspective and time, but it was done so well that I hardly noticed the changes. This novel deals with many themes, such as humanity, relationships, civilization, and loss.

Due to the Georgia Flu pandemic, ninety-nine percent of the world’s population died. We’re able to see the lives of a few people as they deal with the fall of civilization, as well as how they dealt with life before mostly everything was gone. A group of musicians and actors called The Traveling Symphony goes around the settlements that formed after the pandemic to perform Shakespeare plays and play music, and they do this because survival is insufficient.

“Hell is the absence of the people you long for.”

People are what make this world work, and I think that was an important message in this story. And how beautiful is it that not one person is perfect, and that everyone, absolutely everyone, is flawed? Once you meet someone, whether it’d be a friend, a lover, a kind person who offers you a nice smile, it affects your life in some way. It shapes the person you are, and the person you will become. And their presence lingers on you, despite disaster, heartache, betrayal. The people we meet tend to have a long lasting effect on us. Humanity holds us all together.

“He’d adopted new speech patterns. But of course he had, because since she’d last seen him and there had been eleven years of friends and acquaintances and meetings and parties, travel here and there, film sets, two weddings and two divorces, a child. It made sense, she supposed, that he would be a different person by now.”

This novel is brilliant. It frightened me sometimes because it made me ponder on how easily everyone and everything could be lost. It made me realize how finite we are, how mortal and defenseless. It made me value the things that I have, things that I use every day without any small consideration. Mostly, though, it made me value and cherish people. How often do I think when I go out somewhere “there are too many people here, I wish they would leave.” But despite the violence, crimes, and injustices surrounding us, I genuinely value humanity. Now more than ever. We make history every day. We invent brand new things. We improve and change and learn every day. We love and create and help each other. Isn’t that worth appreciating while we still have it? Isn’t this life worth living, knowing there are no guarantees it will be here forever?

I think this is a highly significant book. It’s like a person–full of flaws, charisma, love, wonder, emotion, and hope.


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