I know many of us have always heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, thank the book gods above that I judged Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven by its cover. When we got the book in the store, the cover of the book captivated me. I picked it up, read the inside of the dust jacket and thought, “I don’t think I would like this book, so I’ll just let others read it and tell me about it.” However, the rest of the day I longingly looked at the cover and finally broke down and got it. I am so glad that I did.
Station Eleven captivated me from the moment I read the first paragraph. The story takes place in the present, the past, and in a post-apocalyptic future, weaving stories together that are seemingly random. However, the more you read, the more you realize that the random stories and characters are not random at all; they are all linked by a tragic character. I don’t want to give the plot away, nor do I want to write a book report. I do want to tell you that the connections in the book are profound and that Emily Mandel has hit a home run with this novel.
Her writing is impeccable, and even though I sometimes got annoyed with paragraphs without much punctuation or complete thoughts, I was engaged and enamored with her prose. Station Eleven immediately grabbed my attention and did not let it go (this is saying a lot for someone who is A.D.D. to the core.) The main reason that Station Eleven captivated me was the fact that Mandel painted a clear and vivid picture of her characters and their settings. I found myself sitting in the audience, as she painted a picture of the main character playing King Lear in a Toronto theatre. I also found myself among survivors of the post-apocalyptic plague as they sat in their tent cities; or as they traveled along the road playing their instruments.
Also, I thought the way the story was written in a non-linear timeline, moving back and forth through space and time, was brilliant! I’ll be honest: in reading the reviews, I figured I would have a hard time with this in-and-out of time movement, however it’s what kept me engaged.
Station Eleven is one of those books that grabs you in the beginning, and it gets better and better. I was waiting for a letdown; and yet, it never came. It was truly a page-turner and I would recommend it to anyone who loves literature that is graceful yet sometimes unnerving. It is truly a novel that is brilliant, driven, original, and breathtaking!
//EDIT// Station Eleven was just longlisted for the National Book Award! We still have a few signed first editions left, come get yours today!
Written by Justin