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review 2018-09-03 13:01
Station Eleven
Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel

Fun fact: Nearly every time I read a book involving a pandemic wiping out 99% of humanity, it coincides with me catching a cold. My immune system is not only totally sucky, it’s also highly suggestible. Apparently.


I was hoping to love this more than I did. Literary doomsday novels are possibly my favorite brand of doom and gloom. This one had a good story, but the writing didn’t float my boat. I wasn’t a fan of the excessive sentence fragments or the fragmented narration style, and some of the stylistic choices just led to confusion. Thoughts weren’t differentiated from prose in any way, so there are sudden skews from third person to first, and sometimes the effect was disorienting.


Still, the writing is good, even if it wasn’t exactly my cuppa, and the characterization was pretty stellar. If Ann Patchett wrote doomsday novels, I think they’d feel a lot like Station Eleven.


I read this for the Halloween Bingo 2018 Doomsday square.


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review 2017-10-20 00:00
Station Eleven: A novel
Station Eleven: A novel - Emily St. John Mandel

Second time through this one, this time on audiobook. I still love it to bits. I think the underlying stories about how even at the end of everything art matters (and that art can be Shakespeare or Star Trek or graphic novels or museum exhibits or newspapers), and that what legacy you'll leave, what you'll really truly be remembered for, will be kindness in times of hardship, are very strong. I love how the stories intertwine and how we find out what happened to each character in bits, as how they all fit together and separate and reunite. It and The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf (and the rest of the Tribe trilogy) by Ambelin Kwaymullina are my favourite responses to the apocalypse.

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review 2017-07-31 10:01
The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel
The Lola Quartet - Emily St. John Mandel

There's something about Emily St. John Mandel's writing that appeals to me, an atmosphere of quiet wistfulness that I first felt when I read Station Eleven and drew me to purchase this one. The blurb on the cover calls it "elegant and hypnotic", and I agree.

Like Station Eleven, this novel uses multiple points of view, jumps back and forth in time, and features art playing an important role. In the former it's a traveling theater troupe and a comic book; here it's all about jazz. Combining a bit of crime thriller with drama, at the center of the story are a group of people connected to a jazz quartet at a performing arts high school, reunited 10 years after graduation as untold secrets are revealed.

The story is engaging but the final third of the book, when most of the mystery has become clear, is a little less interesting as we just wait for a resolution to the conflict. Also like Station Eleven, there are coincidences of characters somehow connected to others, some naturally (like people bumping into each other at jazz bars, because most of the characters like the music or have performed it) and some not.

I found myself more interested in the parts about the Lola Quartet in the past rather than the present, wanting more to be told about their high school lives. I started looking up some of the mentioned jazz musicians and songs that I've never heard before, immersing myself in the book's soundtrack of lost dreams and bygone youth. I recommend listening to the song "Bei Mir Bist Du Schön" as well as instrumentals by Django Reinhardt, who played guitar with only two good fingers on his left hand.

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review 2017-06-22 00:00
Station Eleven: A novel
Station Eleven: A novel - Emily St. John Mandel imageAudibleheadphones_icon_1
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url 2017-06-01 20:52
Slate: Dark Futures
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel
Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace
A Visit from the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan
The Book of Joan: A Novel - Lidia Yuknavitch
American War - Omar El Akkad

Slate asks, "What happens when literary novelists experiment with science fiction."


I answer, "Lots of wonderful things."

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