Thursday, January 08, 2015

Station Eleven: Another Dang Review!

I feel like this might be one of those "shut up about it already" books. You've seen eleventy gazillion reviews and you've already decided if you want to read it or not. You may already own it, and you're waiting for the right moment.

So while you're waiting, I'm going to gush!

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel is a bunch of things that generally turn me off: multiple perspectives, it involves actors/fame, it's post-apocalyptic, there are time shifts and general jump-aroundedness. All those things annoy me, but perhaps the reason they annoy me is that most authors don't employ these tactics particularly well. But Mandel has it going on, and she put these tricks to good use.

I'll spare you a plot synopsis in favor of clearing something up right now:

This is post apocalyptic but not dystopian. There's no new world order making rules and sending kids into a death game. Instead, 99% of the world's population is killed by the Georgia flu pandemic, and the 1% are doing their best in the aftermath.

I loved that this novel concerned itself with letting us become really intimately involved with a handful of characters: Arthur Leander, an aging actor who looks back on his life and evaluates his decisions before dying of a heart attack on stage. Jeevan Chaudhary a former paparazzo and entertainment journalist who decides to change his life by training to be a paramedic...and he tries to save Arthur's life. Miranda, Arthur's ex wife who immerses herself in creating a very important comic book. Kirsten Raymonde...Arthur's friend, child actor, Traveling Symphony member.

We get to know all of these characters before and after the Georgia flu. Before and after the end of life as everyone knew it. While the world is a dangerous place where lawlessness and violence are reality, the focus of this novel wasn't squarely on the violence. This was almost nothing like Cormac McCarthy's The Road, a post-apocalyptic novel that seems to spring to mind whenever the subject comes up. 

There was a good deal of information about the logistics of a dying society...how the television stations begin to dwindle, electricity ceases, the Internet is no more. Mandel also allows us to get acquainted with the characters and the ways in which the world has changed in glimpses. With each time shift or varying character perspective, we get another little sliver of how society died out, or how specific characters dealt with the loss of their loved ones, of how society has adapted to this new life. 

I read this novel in three sittings, a miracle for me in light of my reading difficulties as of late, and every time I think back on it, I love it even more. It's wonderful the way Mandel develops themes of connectedness, the importance of beauty and art, the fleeting nature of things, the fragility of our infrastructure and the resilience of humankind. 

It's just a beautiful book. I hope you decide to give it a try. 

Pub. Date: September 2014
Publisher: Knopf
Format: E-book
ISBN: 0385353308
Source: Bought it with my own, hard-earned scratch. 






39 comments:

  1. I'm going to make time for this. I bought thr ebook too, so it's mine when ever I make time for it. Great review

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    1. I hope you like it, Anita!!!

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  2. I loved this one too (shocker - ha!) and agree with everything you said!

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! So so so good!

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  3. Almost at the halfway mark now... so good!!

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  4. You won't believe this, but I've never heard of it, and taking into account that I'm not very keen of these kinds of books either but that you liked it anyway, I should consider to read it.

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    1. Oh good! I'm glad I could spread the word about this wonderful book!

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  5. I have to consider reading this one! Thanks for the great review

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    1. I hope you enjoy it if you get around to it, Melinda!

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  6. Oh, I'm so glad you loved it! I tend to love post-apocalyptic, multiple narrators, and the like, but I keep saying that this book is the post-apocalyptic book even for people who hate post-apocalyptic books, because there is so much more to it than just the premise.

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    1. That's absolutely right. I think anyone would love this book because it's about so much more. Just wonderful writing, too. Rich but compulsively readable.

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  7. I loved this book too and have recommended it to a number of people. I liked that is wasn't all doom and gloom, that it ended on an up note, and instead of assuming the worst about people after society breaks down, it seemed much more human, if that makes sense!

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    1. Yes! I've always had that problem with post apocalyptic novels like The Road. I don't think everyone on earth would turn into a barbaric asshole after something like this. The balance was so much better in this novel.

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  8. I love that you pointed out it's post-apocalyptic but not dystopian, which is an important distinction. I think I went into it expecting there to be at least some sort of government framework set up, but found it refreshing that there wasn't. So glad you ended up liking this!

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    1. Right? I was having a convo with someone the other night (the who slips my mind), and I was like DON'T NOT READ IT!!! Not dystopian! Not dystopian! lol

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  9. I'm waiting for the audiobook on this one! I am excited to try it.

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    1. I bet it'll be GREAT in audio format!

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  10. You're right. I'm not sure this is for me but I feel that I need to get a copy. Of course, once I do, it'll sit on my shelf for a year or two before I read it.

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    1. Ha! I know that feeling all too well. This one didn't linger on my ereader for too long, which was a pleasant shocker!

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  11. I keep getting reminder after reminder to read this, and yet I still don't have it on the shelves. Bad me.

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  12. This was just an impossibly lovely book. I read it a few months ago, and I'm already craving it to read again.

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    1. That's a great way to put it. The writing was superb and it was so damn readable. An addictive combo for sure.

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  13. I do want to read this. You know I love that whole post-apocalyptic thing!

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    1. Yep! I think you'll lurv it!

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  14. This is actually the first review I've read, although I feel like everyone has posted a picture of it on instagram. ;-)

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    1. Wow!!! Yes, lots of instagram pics of this one making the rounds. It's awesome, Jill!

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  15. I just read this too, as you know, and I have to admit I was very late in even hearing about it! And then I was slow to buy it because the e-book was out of my 'e-book' budget, so I decided to make it one of my Christmas books. I was worried about hype mostly. But, it lived up to things and now I am reading graphic novels and attempting to find another novel that calls to me.

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    1. I hope you find another novel that calls to you soon, Kelly! 2015 is the year for better reading mojo. I can feel it!

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  16. I had not heard of this before but it sounds great. Putting it on my TBR.

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    1. Yay! Glad I could introduce you to it. So good!

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  17. I'm so glad you posted this review because I'm getting ready to review the exact same book next week!! LOL. I just read this at the end of 2014 and devoured it! It's definitely one of my top reads for 2014, and I just have to review it on the blog, though I know it's showed up everywhere else, as you said. Every blogger and her/his mother may have reviewed this book. But that doesn't we won't too! I agree with you about how we get so intimately involved with the characters. I loved that about this book. It was just beautiful and I left my flowery book tag stickers throughout the story, indicating passages I liked. I really wanted to know where the mother of the boy wandered off to--you know the boy who ended up becoming "you know who." That was a gap I was wishing the author would have filled in. Regardless, it definitely was a win! -Katie @Bookish Illuminations [http://bookish-illuminations.com/]

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  18. Did I tell you this was a slump-buster, or what? I'm glad you loved it!

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  19. This might have convinced me to read it because all of the things that turn you off of a book apply to me.

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  20. It's on my list all thanks to you!!

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  21. Got it for Christmas - cannot wait!

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  22. Oh. My. Gosh. I started listening to this yesterday and I could not stop. I kept making up new things to clean just so I could keep reading. It's incredible!!!

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