Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven

By Emily St. John Mandel

  • Release Date: 2014-09-09
  • Genre: Science Fiction
Score: 4
From 1,255 Ratings


2014 National Book Award Finalist

A New York Times Bestseller

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.
One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.
Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.
Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

From the Hardcover edition.


  • Many levels

    By Egg-em
    Brutal and beautiful and excruciatingly human, a reminder of just how good we have it and just how far we've come and just how fragile and magnificent ...and interconnected... our world really is. This book will stay with you.
  • A favorite

    By celestibelica
    One of my favorite books.
  • Great book

    By Ctruwally
    Wonderfully woven story
  • Terrible blurb.

    By Satanicpuppy
    I skipped this book a dozen times due to the poorly written blurb about a post-Apocalyptic traveling Shakespeare company. That exists in the book, but the book is about humanity and hope and survival and what that actually *means* and the blurb, to me, represented a pretension and perspective that is otherwise absent in a well-written and thoughtful perspective on the end of the world.
  • Station eleven

    By Sandra huang
    Easy to read, I can't put down my book.
  • Excellent read!

    By Davidwyatt6
    This is not your typical post apocalypse novel. On rare occasions you find a story that you don't want to end, this is that book!
  • No thanks

    By Bbh8008
    I do not like the writing style at all. The beginning had me hooked. Then.. It just went downhill from there. Not a fan at all.
  • Station Eleven

    By Spindoctor35
  • Loved it!

    By Ldo462
    You might be thinking... just another apocalypse story, right? Well, I think this one is special. It is super interesting, imaginative, stylistically distinct and it has complex repeating themes. Plus, I could not put it down. I read it in four sittings and stayed up way too late because I could not stop.
  • Literary Post-apocalyptic world

    By archetype67
    4.5 Emily St. John Mandel has taken a more literary slant to her post-apocalyptic world than the bulk of them out there. You won't find many action filled scenes of crazed road-warriors or zombies or gun-toting survivalists chasing down the 'good-guys'. There are no long explanations of how society collapsed, instead the story focuses on a handful of characters, before and after the plague that wipes out most of the world's population. The major players in the story are all connected, yet they connect through tenuous threads, and there is no big moment where their stories converge. Kirsten was a child actor when the end came, and now, travel with a symphony and acting troop that performs Shakespeare and Shakespeare and his world - another impacted by plague - serve as metaphors. Arthur is an actor and has a heart-attack on stage the night the plague strikes. His ex-wives and his son, are three more threads. There is Arthur's friend Clark, and the paramedic who was in the theater that night. There is a comic book that ties several characters together, that impacts how they understand this new world. Mandel uses the plague to explore philosophy more than the how the world would fall apart and that is the power of her story. The rumination by characters on art and music, the value of items no longer of use, whether the past should be let go or taught, and so much more, all layered over the threads that connect the characters, seen and unseen. Mandel weaves back and forth between the past and the present, and moves from individual story to story, building the larger story. The characters are fully realized and they are a cross-section of flawed humanity. Mandel's descriptions of both the world before and the world after are beautiful and frightening and vivid. There is hope in the new world, but their is an arbitrariness that undercuts that hope. There is a brutality to the new world but there is also a beauty to it as well. In the end, Station Eleven is a novel of the end of the world, but more importantly it is about how that end impacts a few individuals. The focus never wavers from the personal and it is the power of Mandel's narrative.