• kjoannerixon

Station Eleven


Station Eleven was the Tacoma Reads book in 2016, and while I didn’t read it at the time, it’s been on my To Read List ever since. It’s possible that planning all those years to read it someday hyped it up a little too high in my mind—probably no book could live up to all that. Station Eleven didn’t, but it’s still a pretty decent book about the world not ending and what happens after.


The most impressive part of this book is the intricacy of the plotting. There are approximately a thousand different characters in two separate major timelines, and St. John Mandel keeps them all coordinated enough to pull off an ending that smashed. Or at least, it smashed in a kind of emotional, cinematic way. The extent of the coincidences necessary for the ending to happen was A Lot, and then the way things actually shake out is... well, it's either poorly done, or a deliberate subversion of everything the rest of the book builds up to, depending on how you look at it.


The prose was often heartbreakingly lovely, and many of the characters were complex and interesting. As a literary novel, this is quite good. As a speculative fiction novel, it was less impressive, mostly because it deals with themes that are solidly in the mainstream of speculative fiction, about the end of the world and what that means for human relationships and communities. Mandel’s mechanism for ending the world is a commonly used one—plague features everywhere from Biblical apocalypses to the YA novels I was reading in the 90s. But this is not a bad example of that subgenre. For me it wasn’t that fresh, but it was beautiful, and if you have the time for it you’ll probably like it.


#SpeculativeFiction #LiteraryFiction #ILikedIt

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