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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Discussion in 'Books and Anime Discussion' started by Trig, Aug 11, 2018.

  1. Trig

    Trig Auror

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    I'm going to be a brave little toaster and post a recommendation.

    I'm highly recommending Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel:

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    Amazon
    Goodreads

    This book takes place before, during and after an apocalyptic event, and it manages that by jumping between each time and covering the experience of several characters within each chapter.

    Difficult to pull off, which Station Eleven managed to do, but what it actually excels at are its characters. I can't remember the last time I encountered characters that felt so utterly human. Most people experience thoughts, situations and circumstances which are nearly impossible to put into words, and Station Eleven utterly nailed that. It covered several very familiar seeming topics which I could relate to in a way which made the characters feel like real people. It's amazing.

    On top of that the book poses a few interesting questions, either directly or indirectly, about how much about our life we take for granted, how many modern conveniences we rely upon, and how much they define us.

    Man, what an incredible novel. Highly recommended if...well...if you like characters. At all.
     
  2. Newcomb

    Newcomb Headmaster

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    This looks right up my alley. I’m gonna grab a copy. Thanks for the rec, Trig.
     
  3. Trig

    Trig Auror

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    Enjoy, I hope the book is going to hit all the right spots for you too, and I'd really like to know if it does—Station Eleven is difficult to describe, compare, put into a genre or even recommend to people. I wouldn't be surprised if most stores placed it into their Scifi section, which would be correct and an incredible miscategorization at the same time (and don't get me wrong, I love Scifi).
     
  4. CareOtters

    CareOtters Supreme Mugwump DLP Supporter

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    I read through a preview chapter - got a strong New Weird / China Mieville feeling, which is always a good sign, so I've also picked up a copy of this.
     
  5. James

    James Professor

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    Does it contain closure for everything, or is it a setup for series? I'd prefer it was completely self-contained. Thanks
     
  6. Newcomb

    Newcomb Headmaster

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    Finished it last night.

    You're right, this is a tough one to categorize. It'd probably end up going in general fiction, but it feels like it wants to have just a touch of magic.

    It's a straight character piece, and I knew halfway through that the book wasn't really going for a plot, per se. The closest you'd get is the Symphony fleeing / being stalked by the Prophet, but with the amount of time it was given it felt like lip service to drama, tbh

    The real strength of this book is how it plays with moments and time and importance. The non-linear narrative lets the author really play with the device where the importance of an object or moment is highlighted later, in retrospect. Most obvious example is the comic book given to Kirsten, and the paperweight. But that's really what the book is all about, those retrospective, drawn-out realizations. Those connections. Jeevan almost feels like an extraneous character, given that. Yes, his life was touched by Arthur Leander's, which was kind of the touchstone linking everything together, but his story never really dipped its toes into anyone else's except for the very beginning.

    Some real excellent moments of minimalism. I'm thinking of the scene where Miranda realizes it's over with Arthur (the anniversary party), especially that just brutal conversation with Elizabeth, and the way everyone avoids talking about the Air Gradia jet.

    Miranda, actually, was just a very well-done character. Despite having fairly minimal screen time, you really felt like you had the measure of her, and she's just... interesting.

    Not sure I'll ever re-read this, but it never really dragged and I got hooked pretty early, so it did its job. The writing has a kind of lightness and beauty to it that's a little rough around the edges in places, but very pleasant most of the time.

    I'd probably give it a strong 4/5 and recommend it to anyone who likes the idea of post-apocalyptic fiction in general, but with more of a bend towards characters and not much concern for telling a plot-heavy story.

    Solid rec, though, Trig. I enjoyed that.