In April, my book club read Station Eleven. I dove into with my usual lack-of-research bravado – all I knew about the book was that it was some sort of post-apocalyptic novel. This genre really isn’t my cup of tea at all, but for book club I will read whatever is picked, because chatting about books with some wonderful ladies is my happy place.
The premise of the story is that a new type of flu wipes out most of the population. The small percentage that’s left has to learn how to survive without most modern conveniences, and learn an entire new way of life. The story bounces back and forth through time to follow different story lines from before and after the flu. The best part of the story, in my opinion, was the way all of these story lines were related, and each one gave you a little nugget that somehow tied into another part of the story.
This book was both easy and difficult to read at the same time. It was easy because the writing style was simple, but the jumping around in the story and following so many different story lines was difficult. It was sort of like a big puzzle that you put together really slowly. There were also approximately a gagillion characters, and I had problems keeping them all straight and remembering who they were. After I had a whole half page in my reading journal filled with a list of characters, I just stopped writing them down.
The story, though, was interesting and enjoyable to read. It held my attention, and I was definitely excited about what might happen next. However, I felt like I didn’t have any time to connect with any of the characters. I liked a couple of them, but there was too little time spent on each one. So you’d be reading a part of the story about a character you loved, but then you’d be jerked away to another part of the story, possibly in a whole other decade, before or after the collapse of civilization.
I did love the way the story lines all had this shared thread that weaved them all together in some way. There was definitely a lot of creativity that went into it! I also can’t finish this review without talking about the comic book. The book is named for the comic book in the story, and man, did I want to see it. I’m not a comic book reader, but I wanted to read this one. Mandel so beautifully described how elaborate the drawings were, and how enthralling the story. At times, I felt like I’d rather be reading the comic than the book in my hands!
So, in conclusion, it was pretty good, but it wasn’t my favorite. Props to Mandel for creating such an intricate story, but I got lost in it at points (not in the good way you get lost in books like literary quicksand). I give this one 3 out of 5 stars.