Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I listened to the audio version of Station Eleven, read by Kirsten Potter.
I had high expectations going in, as the book came recommended by friends and in reviews. But especially on the heels of reading The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey, which blew my socks off, I found Station Eleven to be a bit of a let down.
What you should know, if you’re thinking of reading it:
Station Eleven is much more a story about people’s lives intertwining, than it is about exploring their lives in a specific, imagined, post-epidemic future.  This is not a bad thing, but what it means is that Station Eleven is
more a work of fiction, than it is a work of science fiction or suspense.
However, this said, Station Eleven left me curiously unmoved, feeling kind of flat. The structure of the novel, which includes looping flashbacks and perspective shifts, didn’t work for me. I believe the author meant to use this structure in order to show how everyone’s lives “interlock,” which I believe she mentions at one point. But the way this was done merely served to keep me from identifying strongly with anyone in the novel.
Also, rather than using this flashback/perspective shift structure to reveal new opinions and viewpoints, the author instead often ended up repeating the same facts multiple times. For example, several different characters described the same, unusual crossbow. The repetition added a Groundhog-Day element to the story, and was not necessary to clarify what was going on.
One clearly spelled-out theme in Station Eleven is the Star Trek quote, “survival is insufficient.” This quote is written on the caravans of the traveling symphony, which performs for the survivors of the post-apocalyptic world of the novel.
Unfortunately, the ideas presented regarding art and survival never crystallized in a powerful way. Station Eleven ended without a sense of completion, or of something new shared, or realized.
Although Station Eleven contained some beautiful scenes, it left me ultimately uninspired.

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