Station ElevenEmily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven

4 star

Total 2,317 Ratings

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel Book Summary

2014 National Book Award Finalist

A New York Times Bestseller

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 Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.
Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.
Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel) Book Reviews

Apocalyptic but funWell written, great character development, and a good read!.Score: 5/5

ExceptionalNot at all what I expected in the BEST way possible..Score: 5/5

Obsess over this storyNearly flawless.Score: 5/5

Almost goodThe book meandered back and forth between the time before the pandemic and after, and really never seemed to come together. It was almost a good story, with parts that kept my attention but far more of it that didn't and i found myself just skimming through it..Score: 2/5

Loved it!You might be thinking... just another apocalypse story, right? Well, I think this one is special. It is super interesting, imaginative, stylistically distinct and it has complex repeating themes. Plus, I could not put it down. I read it in four sittings and stayed up way too late because I could not stop..Score: 5/5

Great book!A great read, a little too close to home with the current Coronavirus going on. But as some reviews have said, its a story of survival & hope. Definitely memorable.Score: 5/5

Excellent read!This is not your typical post apocalypse novel. On rare occasions you find a story that you don't want to end, this is that book!.Score: 5/5

Do not read this book during a global pandemic...OK, so I picked the worst time to read this book. It’s seeping into my dreams and making me panic more. Maybe I would have felt differently 3 months ago? While the book is well written the jumping back and forth and telling all these little snippets of peoples lives is not a style I generally enjoy. Sometimes it seems like it’s leading towards character development, but then most of them are dead so the development feels useless. I’m determined to finish the book despite it bleeding into my reality right now, and I really really really hope that norhing in this book ever comes true..Score: 3/5

Super Good❗This story is very very very good. O kept thinking while I read, “Wow... What If?”.Score: 5/5

SuperbIn a class with "Alas Babylon.".Score: 5/5

Haunting ReadI read this during the Covid-19 pandemic and even though this book is more than just a pandemic story I couldn’t help seeing some small similarities to what we are going through now. This author has a unique style of writing that I appreciated more towards the end. I honestly didn’t want this story to end and wanted to learn more about the characters and where the future was taking them..Score: 5/5

Great characters and storylineThis book caught me completely. Not the happiest story but one on the best in a long time..Score: 5/5

Station elevenEasy to read, I can't put down my book..Score: 5/5

Captivating. I loved it.Perhaps one of the most engaging and beautiful books i've ever read. It became my companion, my friend...i read it in just several sittings and thiught about it all day at work while the last 20-odd pages awaited me. This is unique among post-apocalyptic novels. No gimmicks, no sensationalism. Just a special story with characters that are well-developped and fully baked. I loved it..Score: 5/5

Started off good…So the sample pages were pretty interesting. It seemed like after that everything went down hill. Don’t waste your $$$.Score: 1/5

Unfocused; frequent dead ends.I wouldn't be a surprised if I read a new novel by Mandel and it becomes a favorite of mine. Her writing delights in the shifting of time and characters in an effective manner that remains easy to follow. Considered separately, the character of Arthur is superb. The novel's weakness is its strength. Although Arthur is well written, he is irrelevant to the post apocalyptic plot as he died before it began. In life, he had various connections to some of the numerous characters that are surviving the collapse of civilization but they are tenuous connections left mostly unexplored. The impression is of two books mashed together; a fictional biography of a complex middle aged actor and survival after the collapse of civilization..Score: 3/5

Well-crafted, entertaining read, particularly in these Covid times.Recommended..Score: 5/5

Beautiful but slowThis book was beautifully written, but it was very slow. There were parts in the book that made me think the story was going to pick up, but it didn't. It's wonderfully written, but was slow for my tastes..Score: 3/5

Good but..I enjoyed this book so much! I am just so amazingly sad at the ending! I hope this is just the first in more to come ..Score: 4/5

A great read!I bought this in November of 2019, but didn’t start reading it until July 2020. A pandemic? Really? How apropos. Couldn’t put it down..Score: 5/5

Survival is InsufficientMy personal favorite book of 2014. A post-apocalyptic story that will remind you of other similar tales (The Stand, The Road) but at the same time is completely unique and refreshingly original. Great ensemble of characters that you will remember fondly when the story is done. Do yourself a favor and read this book..Score: 5/5

Great bookWonderfully woven story.Score: 4/5

Better over timeFor some reason I had a hard time getting into this story. It just didn’t go anywhere for me. But funny how a pandemic will change your perspective on an apocalypse story. Since finishing I’ve thought about these characters and what they endured through quite a lot - it’s a beautiful and hopeful idea of humanity and the world steadily moving forward..Score: 4/5

Station ElevenUsually I enjoy a book more than the movie or series but in this instance I feel the series was more enjoyable than the book. If I have question or need more info I read the book but in this instance they were nothing alike..Score: 2/5

What a story!Good thing COVID didn’t hit us like the virus in this story! Very well-written. The story could definitely be a series….Score: 5/5

A worthwhile readA book about the lives of a group of people before and after a major apocalyptic pandemic. The story weaves through the lives of these people and how they lived, loved, and conducted themselves before and after the pandemic. I appreciate the author's technique of going back and forth throughout the book to show us who the characters were both before and after the pandemic. It is not as dark as Cormac McCarthy's The Road, the most depressing book I have ever read, but this book has its moments of pain as well as hope. Overall, a satisfying read..Score: 3/5

Station elevenCouldn't stop reading this book. Very well written and I have to probably read it again because I do that!!!.Score: 3/5

Station ElevenThis is a great book and a quick read. At times having multiple narrators is a little confusing, but this book is a wonderful balance of suspense and mystery in a realistic albeit sad setting..Score: 4/5

!Great.Score: 5/5

Description doesn’t do it justiceYes, it’s post-apocalyptic sci-fi, but it’s soooo much more. Great characters, great story, couldn’t put it down..Score: 5/5

Station ElevenGreat!.Score: 4/5

Loved itThere’s something in the prosody that feels like home..Score: 5/5

Literary Post-apocalyptic world4.5 Emily St. John Mandel has taken a more literary slant to her post-apocalyptic world than the bulk of them out there. You won't find many action filled scenes of crazed road-warriors or zombies or gun-toting survivalists chasing down the 'good-guys'. There are no long explanations of how society collapsed, instead the story focuses on a handful of characters, before and after the plague that wipes out most of the world's population. The major players in the story are all connected, yet they connect through tenuous threads, and there is no big moment where their stories converge. Kirsten was a child actor when the end came, and now, travel with a symphony and acting troop that performs Shakespeare and Shakespeare and his world - another impacted by plague - serve as metaphors. Arthur is an actor and has a heart-attack on stage the night the plague strikes. His ex-wives and his son, are three more threads. There is Arthur's friend Clark, and the paramedic who was in the theater that night. There is a comic book that ties several characters together, that impacts how they understand this new world. Mandel uses the plague to explore philosophy more than the how the world would fall apart and that is the power of her story. The rumination by characters on art and music, the value of items no longer of use, whether the past should be let go or taught, and so much more, all layered over the threads that connect the characters, seen and unseen. Mandel weaves back and forth between the past and the present, and moves from individual story to story, building the larger story. The characters are fully realized and they are a cross-section of flawed humanity. Mandel's descriptions of both the world before and the world after are beautiful and frightening and vivid. There is hope in the new world, but their is an arbitrariness that undercuts that hope. There is a brutality to the new world but there is also a beauty to it as well. In the end, Station Eleven is a novel of the end of the world, but more importantly it is about how that end impacts a few individuals. The focus never wavers from the personal and it is the power of Mandel's narrative..Score: 4/5

Solid readI picked this to read 'something different' and really enjoyed the story. Interesting and well told, this is a compelling and unique story and a more realistic take on the post-apocalyptic subject - not sensational or dramatic. Definitely recommend!.Score: 5/5

Superb!I just finished reading this novel. It is intense and thought provoking. I believe I will re read this at a later time..Score: 5/5

Don’t pass this upOther reviews have said it and I’ll say the same, I didn’t want it to end. The writing had me hooked from beinning to end..Score: 5/5

FantasticI’m not a great writer but all I need to say is read it and you won’t be disappointed..Score: 5/5

Fresh post apocalyptic taleI enjoyed this book thoroughly. The author wove a tale of seemingly unrelated characters and insignificant details that connected and resonated as the story unfolded. Moving backwards and forwards in time we are introduced to characters in one scene only to understand the better by a different perspective, or a flashback. Having read and enjoyed many of the other novels this is compared to ( the stand, the passage, the road) I enjoyed those too and especially in this book, the unique approach that having lost everything, some people would continue art and culture, music and stage. please write a sequel!!! I want to know what happened to so many character in between what we saw!!.Score: 5/5

Don't miss this!!!This novel is unusual for this genre. The characters and story lines are carefully crafted. Like its setting, this book is not rushed. The non-linear layout adds to the suspense while focusing on character building. The plot design is innovative because it's nuanced. It's more just a collection of subplots that end up telling a very human story without the typical formulaic structure and resolution. Beautifully done..Score: 5/5

Disappointed readerNever skipped so many pages in my life, no plot no storyline..Score: 1/5

Very confusing readHard to follow - the book preview sample seemed interesting enough until I started reading the pages of the book I purchased. A real disappointment!.Score: 1/5

Terrible blurb.I skipped this book a dozen times due to the poorly written blurb about a post-Apocalyptic traveling Shakespeare company. That exists in the book, but the book is about humanity and hope and survival and what that actually *means* and the blurb, to me, represented a pretension and perspective that is otherwise absent in a well-written and thoughtful perspective on the end of the world..Score: 5/5

No thanksI do not like the writing style at all. The beginning had me hooked. Then.. It just went downhill from there. Not a fan at all..Score: 5/5

Good but did not endLike other reviews it did seem to slow at points. But kept reading because i wanted to see how all the characters connected. Just when it seemed like it would, the book ended? Second book coming??.Score: 3/5

Some parts were better than othersI was waiting for the book to get really good. It would get there, then go back downwards. And I thought it would be more at the ending.Score: 2/5

A Lovely BookAlthough this is a subject that seems over-trodden, Mandel does a splendid job, lyrically intertwining the various story lines into a deeply satisfying tale. She is able to make characters come to life and gives a truly thoughtful analysis. Lovely, lovely work..Score: 4/5

Many levelsBrutal and beautiful and excruciatingly human, a reminder of just how good we have it and just how far we've come and just how fragile and magnificent ...and interconnected... our world really is. This book will stay with you..Score: 5/5

How strangeI picked this book during my quarantine for Covid19. I was unaware of what the book was about, but I had just finished The Glass Hotel and read that another of her books had been translated into several other languages and was intrigued. As I began to read I got chills up my spine realizing the parallel instantly. I loved Station Eleven as well as The Glass Hotel. In both cases after I began the book I had a hard time putting them down. Even when I was performing my day I would think about the stories and the intertwining of the characters. I am in my eighth week of isolation in Lakeside, Oregon in 2020 and hoping that we are not headed to a Station Eleven..Score: 5/5

This character-driven novel left me with a sense of longing and hope for these characters.Review originally posted on Reading Books Like a Boss ONE OF MY FAVORITES OF 2015! Jeevan. Clark. Arthur. Miranda. Kirsten. These are just some of the characters Emily St. John Mandel created in this moving story about the end of the world, survival, and hope when all is lost. I finished this book late at night, and after I finished I couldn't turn away from this story and these characters. On the night before the end of the world, famous actor Arthur Leander gives the last performance of his life. This was the beginning of the end. A highly contagious strain of the swine flu swiftly spread rapidly all over the world, killing people within two days of contact and wiping out 99% of the world's population. Mandel's novel unfolds alternating between the past and the present time, providing a start contrast between the Old World and the New World. Twenty years after the Georgia flu, Kirsten travels with a Shakespearean troupe and orchestra from settlement to settlement performing King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and other Shakespearean classics because "Survival is Insufficient." This group of people are the closest thing to family for each other but they don't always get along. "But what made it bearable were the friendships, of course, the camaraderie and the music and the Shakespeare, the moments of transcendent beauty and joy when it didn't matter who'd used the last of the rosin on their bow or who anyone had slept with, although someone—probably Sayid—had written "Sartre: Hell is other people" in pen inside one of the caravans and someone else had scratched out "other people" and substituted "flutes." Kirsten keeps a copy of a tattered graphic novel called, "Station Eleven" penned by "M.C." given to her as a child. It's about a physicist Dr. Eleven who, along with several others, escaped to a Space Station after an alien race took over Earth. The vessel is perpetually traveling through space away from the former comforts of Earth, yet those of the Undersea long to go back to the "sweetness of life on Earth." I loved the parallels between the pages of Station Eleven and the world after the flu. (I would like to actually read that novel. Can someone make that happen?). What I found to be quite remarkable was Mandel's writing and her ability take the reader completely into a scene, describing the smallest most seemingly insignificant thing and giving it life. Mandel chooses these isolated moments in the character's lives that, at the moment, are inconsequential, but over time have a deeper meaning to the characters and the story as a whole. The narrators of this haunting tale are several people, all of whom are connected to the Arthur Leander in some way. This book reminded me of the TV show Lost with the way the reader learns a little bit about how each character ticks through a series of flashbacks. "First we only want to be seen, but once we're seen, that's not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered." Mandel weaves several themes throughout the book: survival, preservation, remembrance versus forgetting. Not only was this a story of survival in the sense of staying alive, but it was also about the preservation of history. Of things, places, events, culture, music. There was a civil war of sorts between the characters over forgetting the old world and keeping its memory alive. Memory is hope but it is also pain. "What I mean to say is, the more you remember, the more you've lost." I really wish Mandel would have given the reader more insight into V, maybe a snippet of her book or even her point-of-view. This character-driven novel left me with a sense of longing and hope for these characters. Station Eleven is the best book I've read in 2015 so far. It's one that I really want to reread and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! Audiobook Notes: This is the first audiobook I've listened to narrated by Kirsten Potter. She was absolutely fantastic. She had the perfect voice for all of the characters. One thing I will say about listening to this book was that it was hard for meet to keep track with where the novel was in time. The chapters flip back and forth in time, often without marker. Eventually, I would figure out where we were in the story. But if you're like me and zone off a bit when listening to audiobook, you may find yourself rewinding quite a bit. I switched back and forth between reading and listening and eventually settled on reading most of it. I do want to go back and listen to the story as a whole now that I know how it all ends. 5 stars — A Favorite of 2015.Score: 5/5

A favoriteOne of my favorite books..Score: 5/5

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