[480]: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Knopf | Hardcover, 333 pages | September 9th, 2014 | Adult Fiction | Post-apocalyptic | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


This year, I’ve added discovering more Canadian authors on my list of reading goals as I haven’t read too many novels penned by my country men. Emily St. John Mendel is a British Columbia-born novelist who has three books under her belt, none of which, has ever grace my bookshelves. While it is no surprise that I have not heard of her,  my first taste of her writing went swimmingly well, to say the least.

The Georgia Flu.

The last performance of Arthur Leander’s acting career marked the beginning of the end of human civilization as we know it.  A mutation of the bird flu virus was well on its way to ridding the world of 99% of its population. This was not how Arthur died, however. While performing in a production of King Lear, he collapsed in an apparent cardiac arrest. Jheevan Chaudry, and a cardiologist tried to revive him to no avail.

On a night when the wide-spread contagion was taking a swath of the general population, five people connected to Arthur will tell the story of how they witnessed the end of the world, and the beginning of a new existence.

The Beat Goes On.

Kristen Raymond was 8-years-old when the world collapsed. She was a child actress then. She doesn’t remember a lot of things. But what she remembers the most, is the actor who gave her the time of day, talked to her like a father would, and gave her the most precious of her possessions that she carried with her twenty years after the world’s demise.

Now, twenty-eight, Kristen is a part of a band of performing actors and musicians traveling the area around Lake Huron and Michigan. By foot and horse-drawn wagons, the Traveling Symphony is trying to keep the arts alive.

The Prophet.

On one of their stops, they come across a religious cult headed by The Prophet. A man who collects underaged wives, and one who have convinced his flock that he is the way, the truth, and the light. The revelation of how the prophet relates to Arthur happened in a slow, calculated manner.

 Five in a Knot.

Five intertwining stories all relate to Arthur Leander, and through flashbacks interspersed within the story, we get to know Arthur in the eyes of these people. His successes and failures; his loves and heartbreaks.

The reader will not be surprised, but it was a feeling akin to trying to find out what happened to an estranged acquaintance you’ve lost contact with.

This is a quiet novel; the world, though it succumb to the loss of technology and infrastructure,  remained humane. Aside from allusions to violence in the past, very little gore happened thereafter.

Mandel successfully tells the story of the human condition that floundered and slowly flourished over the years following the apocalypse. I love the way she describes the long-dead technology as if they were artefacts from a lost world. I supposed in all manner of speaking, they really were. She will make you feel a potent nostalgia for the daily comforts that we so often take for granted. Such is the power of her prose.

  • This sounds really interesting Joy, even though it’s a quiet world, so much is going on!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

  • Have already added it to Goodreads before even replying. I NEEEEEEED IT! I love pandemics, post apocalyptic where humanity is challenged and left to rise up above adversity. It sounds absolutely brilliant. Thrilled that you really enjoyed this joy. Going to see if Amazon have it on Kindle shortly. Phenomenal review, I’m completely sold <3

    PS. Couldn't leave without saying, I'm from Can-na-da ay 😀 Oout and aboot

    • Weeeeee! Yes! Read it, Kelly. I am almost 99% positive you’ll love it. 🙂 No pressure.

  • I’m so happy you had only great things to say about this one Joy! I just started it the other day and i’m already seriously liking it 🙂 I can’t wait to finish it.

    • Sweet! I can’t wait to read your thoughts about this book. 🙂 I’ll be on the lookout for your review.

  • You always read the most beautiful books Joy! I actually saw someone haul this yesterday and it piqued my interest. But having read your review, this book has been added immediately to my TBR list for future reference. I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds, and how each of the five characters are connected to Arthur. So glad you love this, thanks for sharing! xx

    • Aw. You’re welcome, Joy. I do hope you’ll give it a go. It’s an extraordinary novel. 🙂

  • I don’t think I’ve ever read a book like that. 😛 With those themes and hardly that deep subject. Maybe, but in a light way. So I will check this one out on Goodreads for sure. Great review, Joy!

  • This sounds like a really interesting novel! I want to read it just to see how, exactly, the story unfolds and to learn about the world! I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything like it before.

    • This was different from the usual post apocalypse novel in the YA, for sure. Also, there’s no romance. But you won’t miss it, I promise. 🙂

  • This one sounds interesting and finally a little complex. I haven’t heard of it but it’s nice to disocver more canadian authors like that. Nice idea!

  • Oh, wow, this sounds so interesting. Reading your review, I can really feel the quiet aura and resilience that this book has. I’m game for dystopic novels that talk more about the world than about some revolution to overthrow the government. Adding it to my TBR!

    Faye at The Social Potato

    • That’s exactly what this book was missing, and what made it even better. There’s no government to overthrow. Just pockets of human lives trying to make do with what they have.

      great insight, Faye!

  • Dystopic novels turn me off a bit because of the intricate world building. This novel seems like it focused more on the human element than the world and how to survive it. I would read this and I can see myself getting absorbed by the characters’ stories.

    • Yes! More human interactions than wordy details about decrepit infrastructure definitely. 🙂

  • This story sounds quietly compelling, Joy. I do love end of the world stories, I have no idea why because that’s a little depressing, right? I guess I like the challenge of survival and wondering what I would do in a similar situation. Lovely review! 🙂

    • Thanks, Rachel. This was an awesome post-apocalypse book. I hope you’ll give it a chance some day. 🙂

  • Great review! I like apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic books because it show us the people at their rawest humanity.
    I´m really curious about this book.

    • Oh I hope you’ll give it a try, Adriana!

  • Amazing review Joy. <3 I do like this cover a whole lot. One day I will want to read Adult books. ONE DAY. Probably 😀 So far I'm happy with YA and MG books, hih. <3 but I love that you are able to read so many different books 🙂 You are amazing. <3 Thank you for sharing about this book sweetie 🙂

  • Well, now I want to know the Prophets connection to Arthur. This sounds unique and like it slowly builds on you. Glad you enjoyed this one Joy.
    Happy Friday and have a great weekend! 🙂

    • Thanks, Kim! A little late responding to comments, unfortunately. I hope you had a great one, anyway. 🙂

  • I struggle with books that have multiple story lines unfortunately. I don’t know why but I can never get into a book with one. This does sound utterly fascinating though. And good on you for supporting authors from your country! 🙂
    Wonderful review, Joy!

    • I tend to struggle with books told in multiple POVs as well, but this one at least has a cohesiveness to it.

      Thanks, Nick!

  • This sounds like quite the read! Interesting and different for sure. I think I would actually be fascinated by it.

  • I always try to make reading Canadian authors a priority, unfortunately there aren’t very many that write in the Paranormal genre. Props to you for making doing so part of your 2015 goals! I’ll have to check out a sample of her work first to see if I like the writing style. Hopefully Amazon has a free preview!

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads

    • That’s so true! Heck, I only know of Kelley Armstrong and Sierra Dean. I hope you’ll find some more. 🙂

  • Glad you liked it! It sounds very interesting, not like other typical dystopian novels. That’s pretty cool. I love new orignial stuff 😀

    – Love, Felicia

    • I think you’ll enjoy this one, Felicia. 🙂

  • I’m glad you enjoyed that one. I loved it! It really made me think of all the everyday things I take for granted that they didn’t have in the book, like refrigerators or electricity.

    • Right? That’s exactly my thoughts during and after!

  • I really want to read this

  • This sounds really interesting, and quite different from other dystopian novels making the rounds at the moment. Brilliant review as always Joy! :]