Book Talk: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Book Talk: Station Eleven by Emily St. John MandelStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Published by Knopf on September 2014
Genres: Adult Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library


Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”





One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

a2Truthfully it made me scared of some super flu (ALSO NOT FUN READING THIS WHEN PEOPLE ARE FREAKING ABOUT EBOLA). But, aside from THAT, I was also like BRAVO BRAVO, BOOK.

a4Have you ever read a book that you truly just wanted to give it a standing ovation after reading it because it was such a masterpiece that it seems like the only appropriate response? That was this book! It was just all around an amazing story that was flawlessly written and I honestly don’t even know where to begin with it.

I love me a good post apocalyptic story and this is a lot different from most I read which are more fast paced, action-y post-apocalyptic books. It really explored that “what next?” question when 99% of the population dies quickly. It’s that bare bones survival but it’s also about rebuilding and figuring what the new normal IS, in light of the past and what happened,  because just surviving becomes not enough — it’s not a life. It’s about how resilient the human spirit is. I loved how the Symphony and the Museum of Civilization were so perfect to show that about humanity. It was just so reflective and I felt it deep in my bones.

I think what was so scary and unsettling about this story for me was how EASILY this could happen. How some superflu can just spread and spread and suddenly 99% of the population is dead. The “after” seemed so realistic. There were just so many moments for me in this book where I realized how thin that line is between TODAY and a future like that. It also was super thought-provoking in that way. You see how useless the things that are attached to us (phones, tablets, computers) can be rendered so quickly.

I loved how we got to see glimpses of the moments the epidemic was unfolding and also 20+ years out from when it all happened. I loved seeing how one moment life was normal and then THIS happened and how people survived. But I also loved seeing what it was like 20+ years out. Where there was a whole generation who has never even seen the old world. And then the contrast with the past memories and the story playing out in the BEFORE was just so PERFECT and startling compared to what people were facing in the now. How different people become. What becomes important. What remains the same in the human spirit.

I grew really attached to the characters and loved how they were all connected by the same actor, Arthur, who died on stage the night when everything went to hell. I loved the perspectives and the reflections they all had in the face of all this and it just came together so marvelously.



factors+ Story, writing, characters, uniqueness, thought-provoking qualities
Took a teeny bit to figure out what was going on with shifting perspectives.

Re-readability: Potentially!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I really kind of want to get it.


People who want a more reflective & less action-y post-apocalyptic, people who like more character driven stories

a8Station Eleven is a book I want to recommend to everyone! There’s something so deeply unsettling about it — more than any crazy post-apocalyptic tale I’ve ever experienced. I think it lies in how REALISTIC it is. It paints a world that is terrifying to the bone but there’s also budding hope. I loved the way the story kind of centers a character and his story in the past but is so finely connected to the other characters who show us the scary bits of WHEN the world as we know it ended and then 20+ years in the future. It was brutal, thought-provoking and just a real masterpiece.


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
* If you’ve read it, did you figure out some of the connections as the story went on?
*Any recommendations for post-apocalyptic books in this vein?


The Perpetual Page-Turner


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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I’m not usually a fan of post-apocalyptic stuff, because it scares me and then I worry about diseases wiping out the world’s population, but this sounds amazing! I’m always after a well-written book, after all.

    • I’m the saaaame way. I watched Contagion with my sister a couple days after I finished this one plus have been watching all the Ebola coverage so I’m pretty much like WELP I AM GOING TO DIEEEEEE FROM SOME AWFUL EPIDEMIC.

  2. I also love post-apocalyptic stories. I bought this one last week, so it’s good to hear I’ll likely love it.

    Your review breakdown is great! The post-it summary is especially cool.

    • You’ll have to let me know what you think And thank you! 🙂 I started doing it pretty early on in my blogging life because IRL when I give a book to a friend I put a post it note on it with something relevant to the book! It just kind of came to me one day to do it with my reviews!

  3. AAAHHH JAMIE YAY. I’ve been intrigued by this one since I first heard about it and Hannah’s review was all I needed to give me that extra push. I’m thrilled you enjoyed this one so much!

    I loved that you said Station Eleven is believable and realistic. I think THAT is my main problem with dystopia/post-apocalyptic novels and why I typically can’t get into them. Have you read The Age of Miracles? I absolutely loved it and parts of your review brought it to mind. The Earth’s rotation unexpectedly slows one day and the novel shows how civilization is affected. Parts were downright terrifying because I could picture it happening.

    • I hope you read this soon!! Cass is reading it right now I know! And no I haven’t read that one but I am pretty sure it is on my tbr!!

  4. This is probably going to be in my top ten for the year, and may even get the top spot. What really resonated with me was that it ended up being such a hopeful story, especially the ending ahhhhh!!! For me it wasn’t so much about the apocalypse and the flu, but about the people who survived and what they did with it. You kept emphasizing how scary the thought of this flu is, but once you get past the part about the flu, it’s really about the people and how they adjust their lives.

    • That’s exactly what it was about for me too..,I didn’t think I emphasized that it was about the flu? Though it did freak me out. I talked a lot about the people and how resilient they were and how civilization survives in the new normal….like the symphony and the museum of civilization and all the other rebuilding. The main thread wasn’t about the flu for me either…I guess my thoughts didn’t translate? 🙁

  5. You’ve convinced me to bump it up my TBR. I’ve started seeing this book everywhere and I need to get on it while I’m still somewhat ahead of the masses. I have a serious fear of spoilers!

  6. I haven’t read this one (yet…) but I am a sucker for literary novels. The cover is also stunning, and there’s been a lot of hype. I’m glad to hear it held up to expectations. One of the best survival stories I have ever read is Ashfall by Mike Mullin—- it is a YA about what would happen if Yellowstone erupted; the coolest part was that Mike Mullin did all the research his MC does (he took Tae kwon do classes , drove the path that his character walked, asked scientists to read the book so it would ring true, etc). Definitely read it if you haven’t!

    • I love literary novels too! I think you would really enjoy this one — very character driven! Have never read Ashfall but sounds interesting! This one is less survival-y focused I think. Don’t really know how to explain it haha. Just read it so we can chat!!

  7. I didn’t realize this was going to be so scary – I’m debating getting this in audiobook form and I’m a little terrified (the last time I got freaked out about the world ending was The 5th Wave, and I could barely handle it), but I’ve heard such wonderful things about the writing and the characters that I still want to read. Really appreciate your review.

    • No no it’s not scary! The 5th Wave is definitely scarier! This is more character driven and less about the world ending but about what people DO in the face of it. You will be fine!! Swear!! It just freaks me out because I’m a germaphobe and I ealize how easily shit like that can spread!!

      • Haha, that was the part that freaked me out about The 5th Wave – how it could easily happen to us. We’re totally defenseless against that scary alien power, and they are EVIL. But you’re right, a virus is way worse. It’s like The Walking Dead…

        Don’t worry, I’m still going to get it and read it. Your review didn’t dissuade me! =)

  8. Ohhhhhhh must add to my TBR now! The cover is so pretty, and my goodness, your review sealed the deal for me. I’m kiiiiinda terrified of Ebola and all things contagious diseases, but I just can’t turn away from a good book.

    • It’s definitely less about the actual illness spreading but it still terrified me because it was realistic. Esp with all this Ebola scare!

  9. I keep hearing great things about this novel! I also love a good post-apocalyptic story and I feel like there have been SO MANY of them lately. Another slow-paced literary one is The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. It sort of snuck up on me. While I was reading it I kept thinking, “oh yeah, this is pretty good” but by the time I finished I was like “THIS IS AMAZING!” and I’ve been recommending it to people ever since.

  10. I am currently reading this and struggle to put it down (stupid work/sleep always getting in the way of my reading).
    I have to agree with you though, I kind of regret reading it at the time of this Ebola Crisis…I keep wondering if I’d be one of the ones to survive if Ebola spreads (probably not, I get sick so easily)

    • GAH I HATE WHEN REAL LIFE GETS IN THE WAY!! You’ll have to let me know what you think when you finish! I have to agree with you…I would be a goner if we had an epidemic. Will and I always joke though, because we eat so healthy all our food is pretty much perishable, that we would NEVER last in our apartment should something crazy happen.

      • Hahaha toooo similar! I was having exactly this conversation with my husband last night. I think we have one can of lentils and one packet of pasta in our pantry, everything else is fresh… Perhaps I should start looking into more processed foods 😛

  11. Lovely review! I’ve been eyeing this one, and I definitely want to read it. However, I agree, it’s kind of a bad time to be reading it, with the Ebola scare. Definitely a reminder of how fragile and important life is.

    • Thank you! It really IS such a huge reminder. You see something so realistic that could happen and then you see how these people’s lives change so drastically. Things that were SOOOO important in the “before” are not even in your realm of thinking in the after.

  12. Loved this book – it’s not often I come across a novel and have nothing bad to say about it! Especially love that it was so beautifully written, yet that never slows the pace of the story or makes the reader lose interest.

  13. This is not typically the type of book I read, but after reading your review, I may give it a go. I read The Age of Miracles and loved it, mostly because it was also character driven. Thanks for changing my mind about this one!

    • Yes I hope you do read this one!! I really need to read Age of Miracles…you are the second person to mention it to me recently!

  14. I’m definitely looking forward to reading Station Eleven! It sounds like such a crazy interesting adult novel, one that will provoke me into thinking about life and lots of other things. So glad to hear that you also enjoyed this novel!

  15. Like others, I’ve been intrigued by this book but worried it might get a bit dull. Your review has pushed it right up my list – thanks. I wasn’t really looking for a book version of “I am legend”! The cover is also super (yes, I am a sucker for a good cover)!
    Happy reading

    • I hope you enjoy it! It was slower at some points but ultimately there was just this SOMETHING that kept me turning those pages!