Monday, March 27, 2017

Literary Annotation: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Details -
  • Title: Station Eleven
  • Author: Emily St. John Mandel
  • Publication Date: June 2, 2015
  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • # of Pages: 352
  • Setting: mainly Canada and U.S., before and after a pandemic
Synopsis -
Station Eleven follows the lives of five individuals before and after the pandemic of the Georgia Flu. Each of their journeys are connected. We get to see how the world looks differently to each individual character and their reflections. During their lifetime, a flu like no other has hit the world, taking countless people with it. The survivors are left with little more than their own skills and what they can scavenge. Will they be able to start over? How will this effect their lives? What is important in the world anyway? Follow an aging actor, a paramedic-in-training, an artist, a dear friend, and a traveling Shakespearean actress to find out what drives them and how they cope. 

Fantasy Characteristics -
  • Typically award-winning (while this did not win, it was nominated for two awards)
  • Character-centered (story focuses on how the individuals cope with their lives rather than specifically what caused these conditions)
  • Thought-provoking (characters reflect on the important aspects of life and how it has affected them rather than their emotions)
  • Story is layered and includes background details (all characters have some important connection to the character Arthur, also focuses on past and present situations and making sense of them both, isn't really a straight storyline and jumps between moments in their lives)
  • Characters are very introspective
  • Darker tone (post-apocalyptic world)

Read-a-Likes -

Awards or Lists -
National Book Award Finalist
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist

My Thoughts -
I enjoyed this book. I love to see things from different characters' perspectives, especially while trying to see the connection between each one. I liked seeing the different points in each character's life. I wasn't sure about it when I first started, but the last line of chapter two had me hooked. It reads, "Of all of them there at the bar that night, the bartender was the one who survived the longest. He died three weeks later on the road out of the city." At this point, I had forgotten that it was based around a pandemic. I was very much intrigued and loved the style of writing. The bluntness of it after these characters had been sitting around talking just appealed to me. It is definitely a very thought-provoking book. There are a few things that frustrated me, but only because I like to have things wrapped up somewhat at the end. One of the characters, Kirsten, cannot remember the first year of her life on the road after the pandemic. We never get to see that part of her life. There also isn't really any conclusion. The people go on as they were, trying to build a life. We don't get to see what the world ends up like or see any connection outside of North America. These things were slightly irritating, but I was okay with it because it doesn't really fit in with this genre anyway. Bottom line: If you are looking for a book that will leave you thinking afterwards, read this. If you like plot-driven stories with tidy endings, don't read it.


  1. I absolutely loved this book. I made this mistake of starting to read it while on a plane. For those who have read it - they'll know why that was a mistake! I spent the entire flight wondering who amongst my fellow passengers was a carrier!

  2. I too loved this book. The audiobook was AMAZING! Fantastic annotation! You did a great job describing a complex plot in your summary. Full points!