Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

Station Eleven by Emily St John MandelI am probably the last person to have read Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel. Even my mom read it before me. But read it I have, and you may be shocked to find out that I was disappointed by it. That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, but it failed to live up to the hype.

Dystopian novels, despite recent trends, are not really my thing. However, Mandel created a compelling and convicing post-devastation world that grabbed my attention. Set mostly in Toronto and rural Ontario, Station Eleven imagines a world after a fast-moving virus kills off most of civilization in a matter of days.

Ultimately I have no complaints about the novel, more just that it wasn’t for me. Also the fact that it made so many “Best of 2014” lists made me expect something a little deeper. Station Eleven was a quick read, but I think i was expecting something with great depth, maybe more along the lines of Oryx and Crake.

Who would like this book? Station Eleven is a crowd pleaser. It will appeal to a wide range of tastes. I think all of us can fall prey to imagining what life would be like after major devastation; what we would do in order to survive. The thing I most enjoyed about Station Eleven was how all the various characters’ stories wound together in the end. In that way it reminded me a bit of A Visit From the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan (review).

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20 Comments

  1. I think what makes it so popular is that it is such a well done dystopian novel; there’s more to it than just a straight story about disaster and survival. It appeals to a wider audience than just dystopian lovers, which has made it more popular than some of the other books in its genre, but not necessarily the best book out there. I loved the idea that there will always be art, no matter how down-trodden the world gets; people will always want to make art.

  2. I haven’t read it yet either. I think I’m going to soon, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to be for me. Even the glowing reviews made me think twice – for exactly the reasons you state. Nothing is ever going to have the depth or emotional power of Blindness and so disaster/survival books often fall short for me.

  3. I’ve also been avoiding picking up Station Eleven because of all the hype. It’s hard to form your own opinion when you know that you should be proclaiming your love to the book already on page 5. So thank you for your review! The fact that someone out there doesn’t absolutely love it makes it a bit more approachable (I think).

  4. You never fail me! I had the exact same reaction to the Mandel book. People whose opinions I really appreciate told me how wonderful it was and I was just, well, so-so. Again, as so many have said, dystopian is not normally my thing even though I’ve been knocked out by Margaret Atwood or Steven King. So….still not sure why Station Eleven was on all those “best of” lists.

  5. I havent read it just yet, but will tone down my expectations accordingly. Thanks for the tip. I tire at times of all the dystopian novels. So that’s why I havent jumped at it yet. But I plan to get to it.

  6. I haven’t read this but it’s been on my mind because of all the hype! In a way it’s good to hear that you were disappointed, because I keep trying to read the first few pages in the bookstore and giving up. Hmmm… perhaps I’ll reserve a copy from the library!

  7. Sorry you didn’t love this one. Honestly, I’m so wary of reading overly hyped books anymore. The book might even be great, but my expectations are usually too high. I happened to read this one before I heard much about it and I loved it.

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