Review | Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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Rating: 5 5 stars
Format: Trade paperback
Published: 10th September 2014
Amazon | Goodreads


One snowy night in Toronto, famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whilst performing the role of a lifetime. That same evening a deadly virus touches down in North America. The world will never be the same again.

Twenty years later Kirsten, an actress in the Travelling Symphony, performs Shakespeare in the settlements that have grown up since the collapse. But then her newly hopeful world is threatened.

If civilisation was lost, what would you preserve? And how far would you go to protect it?


This review may be slightly biased because I love this book. Like I really really love this book. Okay first thing is it’s a post apocalyptic novel. But it’s so believable. We don’t have any of this phone signals turning people into zombies, or aliens invading or nuclear detonations. It’s just a really really bad virus that kills almost everyone. I mean if Ebola or some other virus gets worse that could actually happen. It sort of did happen once with the Spanish Flu.

I love that it’s sci-fi but not really. Actually its barely sci-fi. This is the sort of book I would recommend for people who don’t like sci-fi. I mean yes a good part of the book is set in a post-apocalyptic world, but it’s still not sci-fi. Apart from a new virus it really doesn’t have any new science in it. Its really more a story about a bunch of people living in a world with no electricity, no medicine, no internet, no anything basically.

But the one thing I love most about this book (and I may start rambling here) is that is has a reference to Star Trek Voyager. This is probably no secret but I am a huge Star Trek Voyager nerd. One thing that annoys me when any media makes a reference to Star Trek is that they forget there is more to Star Trek than James T Kirk. I mean there are five Star Trek television series (six if you include the animated series), not to mention the movies. And yet when there is any mention of Star Trek in pop culture you can bet it will be referencing The Original Series.

So the fact that Emily St John Mandel referenced ST: Voyager and not only that but it explains a huge part of the book. That one tiny line explains the entire reason why there is a shakespeare company travelling around North America and Canada. That was the moment I fell in love with this book.
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  • lilianflesher

    Emma is on the other side of the world to me and heard the devastating news of the virus first. Of course Emma being Emma got right on her website knowing that was the quickest way to reach millions of people to let them know the devastating BLOG VIRUS is live and it is a killer with no known cure .

    Apparently the Blog Virus attacks you’re hearing first, then it starts eating into every orifice of your body. The devastation is deadly, every single person on the planet is doomed, for there is no cure! I have just read about it and I realise I have several things I need to attend to first. Dashing out the door, I grab my bag, my mobile and head to the bus stop at the end of my street. Once on the bus I buy my ticket to town, where I rush around the local supermarket buying a few bottles of champagne and a couple of boxes of chocolates. I set off home and on my arrival, I pick up the phone, ring my sister and speak to her for 10 mins, just long enough to tell her I love her, and that I hope we are still together when we reach our afterlife (hopefully there will be one). Next call I make is to my GP, to tell him he is an asshat, that his attitude sucks, and that he should be first to contract the killer virus (he is a jerk).

    After an hour spent making various calls to friends and family I switch on my off the television, because I do not want to sit and watch hours of news bulletins about my impending death, I would rather crack open my champagne, open my chocolates and fire up my beloved Kindle and read one of the many awesome books I have on it. What better way to end my life, full of delicious chocolate, drunk as a skunk and have finished another amazing read!!!

  • chaiann

    While my children sleep, I prepare for the end of the world.

    They think the extra gallons of water in the garage are for a trip, the canned food will be donated to charity next time their school has a food drive. I was going to tell them at first because they have a right to know, right? But when I sat them down and looked in their innocent eyes, I couldn’t. They are 6 and 9 and don’t need the burden of their own mortality put on them. So I creep around the house at night like a burglar, fortifying the basement, collecting food, hoarding batteries, taking stock of our first-aid. Then, as the sun comes up, I sneak into their room and sit between their beds for just a moment. Sometimes I watch them to memorize their faces and sometimes I just close my eyes and listen to them breathe.

    In the morning, they will probably begin talking about their plans for summer vacation. I will hold back tears and smile telling them that that sounds wonderful, all the while knowing that summer vacation will never come.

    I was going to tell them but they have a right to live, right?

  • playingmanyparts

    The world as we know it is ending, so we start living. There is no longer reason to work in cubes acquiring crap, so we quit, and we’ll sell all our things to make quick money. Since we no longer need them, we’ll sell our car and house today or trade them both for a RV to stock and travel with. My family and I will pack our 5 outfits, 5 books, and 5 must-haves and leave our cage.

    We will then be free to travel the states to say good by to friends and family. Along our way we stop at every library and check out all the how-to books we can with no intention of returning them, they won’t need them. As we travel, we stop each night to be thankful for the day by dining on soup around the campfire where we remember. In Michigan we will learn to shoot and buy a gun. We will learn to live off the land and collect all the seeds we can as we travel.

    In the end, we will find the most bountiful, secluded, remote location we can find to settle in and as this world ends, we will start living.

  • Lynn Love

    The cats prowl, maddened by hunger, feverishly curling round my ankles, and I know because there’ll be no more food, that I must prepare, help them go before me. I make my mind wander, a distraction from my busy hands.
    I should feel regret that it’s only me and the cats, that I have no partner, no children ‒ loving or estranged – to accompany me into death. But even at my most hopeless, I can’t regret my stubborn, solitary life – to pretend as much would be a lie and what’s the point of pretence now?
    Hands still gripping, still pulling, my eyes drift to the TV and I see that young male newscaster’s been replaced by a jowly woman with bleach brittle hair who resembles my old cafeteria cook. How many staff have they lost since this began, how many dead, to be replaced without a word of explanation?
    I think of all that will crumble as mankind slips away: Mona Lisa’s smile cracking and flaking to pigment: Van Gogh’s Sunflowers shattering to seed sized splinters. I focus on this, not the nurseries and the primary schools used as mortuaries, their own teaching staff, their own pupils lying exposed inside ‒ they ran out of body bags days ago.
    And now the cats lie in a row, limp on the rug – four wrung necks, four pink, protruding tongues – the last, Logan and I, curled on the couch, he nestled in my arms, purring and oblivious to his fallen comrades. I close my hand around his neck, feel the vibration against my palm. I pause – perhaps I won’t be alone when the end comes.

  • mescalime

    Hi Emma! Great review and challenge. Here’s my story:

    The end is near. Haven’t got much time, but I feel peaceful. Why? Because I’m one of the few who know the apocalypse is yet to arrive and knowledge is power. I won’t prepare, have nothing to prepare for. I want to be happy and happiness cannot be conquered alone. So I try to have the best last days of my life with the ones I love, laugh as much as I can and watch every sunset and sunrise. Maybe my soul will remember them in his journey to another dimension and bring them to life again. What will happen after I’m gone? Well that is a mystery I can’t and won’t like to solve. So let the end begin, because I’m happy now.