Friday, November 30, 2018

Station Eleven - Emiliy St. John Mandel ------------------- 2.5 Stars

I'm not sure how Station Eleven got on my "to read" list of books. I can imagine it's popularity as it's another post-apocalyptic similar to the uber popular The Handmaid's Tale and the strong reviews on Amazon probably helped. Like The Handmaid's Tale (my review here), I didn't really enjoy the story with both earning only 2.5 stars. Let's find out why.

While the novel has an interesting concept, it's beginning to become so cliche in the modern storytelling concept. I'm sure you've seen it before. It's the common, sometimes well used and sometimes over used, practice of telling a story, in this case with multiple characters, on two different timelines. As you guess from the introduction, the author goes between the pre and post apocalyptic world, taking the characters and showing their lives at different points of time.

Overall, the characters are interesting. They are a varied in background and Mandel does a good job of rounding them out over the course of the novel. I personally did not find much of a connection with any of them, and while she tried to make a couple of them likeable and interesting, I struggled to find a reason to root for them.

The novel has a nice pace, moving backwards and forwards on the timeline with ease. I enjoyed the action scenes and the constant feel that something exciting would occur at any moment. Part of the excitement of the novel was knowing that you didn't quite know where it would end up. Unfortunately, that was also one of the major limitations. I thought that there would be a much greater climax for an ending.

Perhaps my biggest frustration with the novel is what I alluded to above - I couldn't find a reason to care for or connect with the characters. While I really liked the general arc of the book, the characters, though well described, didn't make a mark on me. I presume the other reason I may not like the book, is perhaps the same reason for the low rating of The Handmaind's Tale; I don't enjoy reading sad literature. When the beginning of the book is killing of a significantly large percentage of the world's population, I usually find this type of story harder to engage.

Clearly I did not enjoy this book as many others that have read it. While it has some interesting elements, good action, and a plot that does keep you engaged, it struggles to create characters to root and care for and presents a pessimistic view of a post-apocalyptic. Perhaps it ends up being a more enjoyable read for you!

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