I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to write a lovely encapsulation of why I enjoyed Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel so much when I read it recently. A transcendent review just wasn’t happening though, so let’s run down the high points of why I loved reading it. I didn’t even read it — devoured or inhaled would be a more apt way to put it.
1. The world building alone makes it worth a read. Because I could felt like I could experience every step of the story, everything was imbued with an extra level of satisfaction.
2. The twinned highlighting of the resiliency and fragility of humans, on a personal and societal scale. I am struggling because I don’t want to spoil anything, and basically everything feels like a spoiler for this book.
3. The writing!!! The book is thrilling, well-structured, well-paced — and actively frightening. The frightening piece is largely a credit to the world building as I felt slotted right into the narrative… a well-plotted, fast moving, sweep of an epic narrative. Any time an author jumps between multiple timelines and points of view, I need things to be extra cohesive. Because I am judgey and feel they need to earn that not-linear plot. And this book EARNS it and executes it very, very well.
4. Ah, the human thirst to remember even when aware of the benefit of forgetting. Yep, that’s all. A real thing.
5. Ah, the human desire for art and search for meaning. Whether connection through art to the past and present or the hope for something greater than ourselves in God, words, community, or service to one another.
6. The interlocking lives. Even when we don’t realize it, maybe especially then, so much of what we do touches people’s lives in unexpected, untrackable, unknowable ways. Station Eleven does a great job of showing this, revealing the web of lives, without knocking readers over the head. The book is excellent using subtlety when it could easily knock readers over the head.
7. I was helped by the fact that the main setting centered around the Great Lakes (my homeland), so I could “get it.” This was part of why I also adored The Art of Fielding (the college at the center of that book is two miles from my parents’ house and my brother’s alma mater). My only question is: what was the climate? Was global warming ramped up?
Linking up my feelings at 7QT… and just noticing this post had no actual ending. Whatever whatever.