by Emily St. John Mandel
I heard a lot of mentions of this book before I read it, (though I was able to completely avoid spoilers), but no one told me that it was “A Visit from the Goon Squad” plus the end of the world. Oh my gosh, this book! I literally started the audiobook on a Saturday morning and then couldn't stop cleaning the house because I wanted to have a reason to keep listening to it.
Let me repeat that… this book made me clean so I could keep listening, that has never happened before. There've been times when stayed in my car for an extra minute to keep listening, but I have NEVER spent an entire day cleaning my house because I wanted to keep listening to the book. That's how good this was!
Technically this book is about a post-apocalyptic world. But please do not let that deter you from reading this if that's not your thing. This book really is one of the most well written connected character sketches that I've ever found. It reminded me so much of Egan's book in so many ways. It jumps back-and-forth in time and different chapters are from different characters’ point-of-view. The stories are all connected, woven together to create a big picture view of their world.
The book "The Passage", which was such a big hit a couple years ago, is similar in some ways, but it frustrated to me for a couple reasons. My biggest problem with it was that you became invested in a couple characters that pretty much disappeared after a certain point in the story. For a second in this book I thought the author was going to do the same thing. I didn't realize at first that the storytelling was going to be nonlinear. We jumped around in time, getting to know what our characters are like both before and after the "end of the world".
I was swept away in the stories at every point in the novel, which is difficult for an author to do when you’re juggling so many characters. Normally you get bored with one story and want to return to a different one. But in Station Eleven, each characters’ tale adds so much depth to the others that you don’t care who you are reading about in a given moment.
BOTTOM LINE: Just fantastic, my favorite read of the year so far! If the genre or plot doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, I’d encourage you to check it out anyway. It's one of those books that rises above the basic plot points it contains and becomes something that almost anyone can connect with. It's more about human nature, grief, loneliness, and how we are able to connect with others. It's beautiful and I know I'll be reading it again.