Review – Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven made me think, reflect, contemplate. However you want to state it – it got into my head. You don’t have to be currently living in a pandemic. – Covid19 in this case for Station Eleven to resonate. So, so many questions and trains of thought:
- Do vague memories make you pine for the life before
- Are you wistful for the experiences you know you’ve lost but didn’t get a chance to participate in?
- Do you try to forget the past because there are few remnants to remember it by.
- How do you feel that the reference points that remain can’t make you remember fine details.
My copy of Station Eleven was a book reservation. Having read it now, I’m not surprised that I had to wait 12 weeks to get my hands on it and that there are 5 library patrons waiting in line for it after I’m done.
This book followed groups of survivors after the break down of the world due to a virus. There is a travelling theatre group with accompanying orchestra, a small settlement and an international airport terminal. We deftly weave in between characters from before and the aftermath. We see the expected man’s inhumanity to man played out in different ways.
And there is this limited edition comic book, which is of some crucial importance to those who have read it and seems to parallel the recovering world. So pleased that the ebook version had a copy of the comic strip at the end.
The questions that this book raises are deep and profound.
- What do you do when there’s an absence of choice?
- What can you do when there’s only one option?
I have so much to say about this book that the conclusion is I have too many words. Be please do not think that the brevity of this review, lack of fine detail and character analysis is in any way an indication of its merit. It is truly excellent.
Inevitable or happenstance?
It made me sad for those who corrupt religion and faith for their own purposes and angry on behalf of those negatively affected by false prophets. I was frustrated but not surprised by those who used might to rise to the top of this new world hierarchy. A power vacuum needs to be filled.
But you can still weep for a child living in a broken, uncertain world with no adequate guidance, trying to survive, and making the wrong choices. It’s no surprise that they becomes a twisted version of what they could have been. Though there are other children living through those circumstances who make different more inclusive choices.
These groups of survivor struggle ever onwards trying to make it. They keep trying to keep humanity alive beyond the bare necessity. To get out of survival mode and onto living. To create a home, not dwelling, make friends and family from the disparate group their part of. To be creative, have entertainment, to live and love.
I found the setting of the survivors in the airport more tragic. It hit home the most for me, mainly because it referenced the things which were lost in an identifiable way.
I was heartened by the resilience of adults and children of what they strived hard to achieve. What they overcame in their attempts to build relationships and community. The confidence and determination to recreate not replicate society was pleasing to read.
I thought I would be sad, expected it even, given the subject matter and because currently like everyone else living through a pandemic. Yet I was contemplative. It made me appreciate all I have, the many blessings I’ve received and the acknowledgement of those who have it worse.
A haunting tale interspersed with hope – a must read.
4 Stars – Really Liked It