Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel, is an odd-but-interesting fusion of near-future dystopia and literary fiction. The book follows two main storylines, both of which consist of multiple subplots. This results in mildly confusing storytelling, and does a good deal of damage to the pacing of the novel. Additionally, Mandel relies too heavily on several writing/storytelling mechanics (for my tastes). Despite all this, Mandel puts together an engaging story told before an intriguing backdrop. I could feel the glimmer of promise and potential works its way through truly excellent story beneath the surface of every page. But, unfortunately, that glimmer never took form and Station Eleven fell a little short of the mark for me, making it a read with caution.
- The pacing of the book could use a great deal of work. The beginning was slow and the flow of the story ran hot and cold throughout its entirety. I would regularly come off parts that I couldn’t read fast enough and settle into parts that I didn’t want to read at all.
- Mandel’s application of nostalgia was just far too heavy handed for me. I understand why she so frequently used the devices of imagination and longing in her storytelling (I would long for AC so hard in her world), and I can’t say that it isn’t an effective device. But Mandel applies these devices so frequently that they became tedious and obnoxious to find.
- The premise of the novel is interesting and provides Mandel with a very efficient vehicle for what (I think) she wanted to do with this novel: display and develop characters.
- The characters are well developed and interesting. None of them came off as forced, and I found most of their thoughts and interactions to be interesting.
- A common thread based upon the idea of six degrees of separation runs throughout the entire novel. While it was done well enough to not seem silly or annoying, it still felt superfluous to me. I feel like the book would have been just as enjoyable if there wasn’t a complex web of red thread connecting characters, idea, objects, and events.
- The book jumps between time periods and characters fairly frequently. It’s not done poorly enough that it damages the story, but it’s also not done well enough to avoid feeling jarring.
Georgian Flu is the nightmare, worst-case-scenario pandemic that doomsayers have been predicting since time immemorium. It sweeps through the population with ruthless efficiency, ignoring borders, medicines, and all significant attempts to control it. It will destroy the modern world as we know it. As you read Station Eleven, you will watch was the world begins to unravel, and see what the world could become twenty years after it ends.