Book Review: Station Eleven

STATION ELEVEN | Emily St. John Mandel
09.09.2014 | Vintage
Rating: 4/5 stars


Arthur Leander thought it was just like any other night as he walked on stage to perform in King Lear until a heart attack took his life. A young actress, Kirsten Raymonde, looked on as the world around her changed. This was the night that the Georgia Flu put the world in a state of global pandemic.

Twenty years have passed and Kirsten still holds on to parts of the night that changed her life. She is now in a traveling actor and musician troupe called The Traveling Symphony who move from settlement to settlement performing Shakespeare. From the minute they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water something doesn’t feel right. A violent prophet has taken over and no one is safe from his beliefs including Kirsten’s small group.


STATION ELEVEN is the story of a global flu pandemic that completely changed the world as we know it today. The Georgia Flu had an incredibly short incubation period and overnight the world was faced with death and destruction. Emily St. John Mandel has put together a story that weaves between the outbreak and twenty years in the future for a cast of characters that are connected through various ways.

When I first started reading STATION ELEVEN I was expecting a linear story that progressed from the start of the Georgia Flu outbreak to twenty years in the future, but was pleasantly surprised to find a story that alternates timelines. I typically prefer sections to be labeled to identify when the timelines are shifting, however, this book does not do that. I was worried I might become confused, but the chapters start out in a way that clearly lets the reader know what time period they will be in. 


In addition to using alternating timelines, the book also focuses on various characters who are all connected in some way to our main character of Kirsten. I loved that St. John Mandel chose to include additional secondary characters in order to explore how the pandemic impacted various lives, from those who survived to those who lost their life because of it. The flashes between characters made the book feel a bit like a movie with flashback scenes that help you understand the present day situation more clearly.

STATION ELEVEN is a fascinating look into a pandemic that now more than ever is relatable on some level for everyone in the world. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a dystopian read and is comfortable with something that hits a bit close to home.

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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