Book Review: Station Eleven

I used to be a really big reader. I was reading multiple books at a time throughout middle school and the beginning of high school. It brought me a lot of joy, and it was one of my favorite things to do. In the past few years, though, I have barely read for fun at all. The bookshelf in my bedroom is full of the books I have read and loved, and the books I once bought excitedly but now sit and collect dust. I recently decided to make a change. Over winter break, I finally read one book that has been sitting on my shelf for about a year: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Semi-spoiler: I absolutely loved it.

pile of books Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Station Eleven is a fiction novel about what’s left of the world after an incredibly deadly virus kills billions of people. The characters struggle with survivor’s guilt, attempt to come to terms with the world as it’s changed, and attempt to rebuild their lives. It’s technically a post-apocalyptic book, but I think that it is mainly a story of humanity. Unlike others of its genre, it mostly takes place 20 years after the “end of the world." It describes several very interesting characters over different timelines before and after the virus. It primarily follows the Traveling Symphony, a group of musicians and actors who go from town to town performing Shakespeare.

Obviously, the theme of a pandemic is incredibly topical now, though this book was written in 2014. The “Georgia Flu” that ravages civilization is luckily much much worse than the Coronavirus. The pandemic in Station Eleven completely devastated the world. Life after the flu was so entirely different from life before that time is only known as Before and After. 

Woman Wearing Brown Shirt Carrying Black Leather Bag on Front of Library Books Abby Chung

Despite these heavy themes, Station Eleven is ultimately very hopeful in tone. It has some heartwarming moments that lighten the mood. Without giving away too much about the ending, it is honest yet optimistic about human nature.

All in all, I would highly recommend this book! It is a mystery, adventure, thriller, science fiction, and dystopian novel all in one. It also has many fun plot twists because of its out-of-order sequencing. The narration is beautiful. I underlined a lot of striking lines and passages that resonated with me. I really enjoyed reading Station Eleven, and I am grateful that it got me out of my reading slump.

For anyone else trying and struggling to get back into reading, I think that the hardest part is starting. It’s not easy to convince yourself that reading is fun when you haven’t read for fun in years. But if you can just make yourself sit down and start reading a book, you might find that you just can’t stop.

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