Book Review – Station Eleven

So, I have been off work this week so reading a lot. This was my January book from my subscription service, The Willoughby Book Club. Page numbers on Amazon are totally different depending on exactly what you click on, so the number below is how many are in my hardcover edition.


Title- Station Eleven
Author- Emily St. John Mandel
Published- 2014
Genre- Dystopian
Length- 333 pages
Rating- 5/5


DAY ONE – The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the earth like a neutron bomb. News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%.

WEEK TWO – Civilization has crumbled.

YEAR TWENTY – A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe. But now a new danger looms, and he threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild.

Review- This is an excellent book. From the very first page it keeps you wanting more, and is incredibly well written.

As the synopsis says, a flu wipes out most of the population. The book starts on the day the flu hits the US and from then on flips between pre and post flu. Post-flu is mostly twenty years later, “year twenty” and follows the Travelling Symphony who perform in the new, post apocalyptic settlements. There are mentions of earlier times post flu which include the symphony members as well as some others, most interestingly, those at the airport, and what they have been through to survive. The characters are all interesting, as are the connections between them, which become apparent as you go through the book.

Like the disaster films, the new, relatively lawless world has dangers, which are discussed, but unlike some of the films, this isn’t the only thing in the book. The usual methods of trying to survive, stocking up on food, raiding houses etc are all described and although we have seen this in all the films, it doesn’t feel stale or repetitive. It is very well done.

I would have liked to see some more of the towns visited by the Travelling Symphony, there are brief mentions of other towns, which sound really interesting, but only one is focused on. Despite him not being named, I thought it was obvious who one of the new world characters was reasonably early on, but I don’t know if that would have been avoidable, and knowing didn’t take anything away from the story.

This isn’t the type of thing I normally read and if it hadn’t been sent to me I doubt I would have picked it up, but I really enjoyed it. Check it out!


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