There’s been a lot of talk about Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It was a finalist for the National Book Award and a bestseller. It’s been on display at bookstores and libraries. So it just so happened to be my book club’s latest pick. I had high hopes for this book. I like dystopian/apocalyptic novels, whether they be young adult based or adult based. But I’m always interested in novels that aren’t made-for-film type young adult novels.
Launching into the book, I brought a lot of baggage. I’ve read The Passage by Justin Cronin, The Hunger Games, and Divergent. So I was wondering how Station Eleven was going to fit into this cannon of works. Basically it’s the story of how the world collapses due to a flu and how individuals who survive the outbreak make a life after the collapse of civilization.
The writing is fluid and yet crisp. There doesn’t seem to be a section that isn’t well thought out or a paragraph that is a waste. The dialogue isn’t stilted and does more “showing” rather than “telling”. The way in which the story is told is unique. Beginning in media res the story flashes back to the past and then jumps forward to the future post-apocalypse world. At first it was hard to keep track of where we were in the timeline, but quickly I settled into the flow of the novel. It actually felt a lot like Lost (TV show), which I liked, so I was intrigued to see how it was all going to come together.
The one knock against the book is that it didn’t feel quite unique enough. In fact, one of the novels that St. John Mandel mentioned as being referenced in her own work, The Passage, seems to be the precursor to her work. I didn’t feel like she was doing anything new with her work, idea wise; they felt very similar. What I did like about her work was that she asks different questions about what is civilization?, what ideas are better left off dying with the previous civilization? Which should be brought into the new world order?
All in all I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in good writing and dystopian novels. It doesn’t go to the head of the class, but it does deserve an honorable mention.