Emily St. John Mandel – Station Eleven (4 stars)

Expert storytelling sets this provocative tale of societal apocalypse apart

Emily St. John Mandel – Station Eleven


When the Georgia Flu hits, the age of electricity comes to an abrupt end. 99% of the world’s population die, taking with them the knowledge mankind used to create everything from aeroplanes to running water. For the few that survive the collapse, life becomes about succumbing to a new existence – but what happens when survival is not enough?

The basis of Emily St. John Mandel’s fourth novel is relatively familiar; a dystopian future where a major event causes the essence of normality to shift. However, Mandel’s strong storytelling ability sets Station Eleven apart.

The central characters are all linked to film star Arthur Leander, who dies of a heart attack early on. Mandel fluidly switches between characters and time periods, telling two tales at once; that of Arthur’s life in the old world, and the survivors’ life in the new one.

The result is a provocative tale of societal apocalypse that uses a nonlinear narrative and sharp characterisation to convincingly create a disorientated reality, where humanity moves into an uncertain future on a planet littered with reminders of an imperfect past.

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