I’ve finished my seventh Evergreen book, this time it was Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It begins in Toronto on the night of a flu outbreak that ends up killing 99.99% of the human population within weeks. The novel then proceeds to jump all over the place as we get to know more about a core cast of characters, some before the outbreak and some after, who are all linked in one way or another. It could have been very confusing but it actually worked really well – St. John Mandel is a truly talented writer.
This was an extremely well crafted book, there wasn’t one extraneous sentence in the whole thing. Every single little detail, no matter how insignificant it seems at the time, is just another strand in the complex web St. John Mandel is weaving. I found myself constantly flipping back and forth thinking, ‘Wait, is that the same paperweight (or photograph or book or whatever, you get the idea) she mentioned in that other character’s storyline five chapters back? It was!?! How did it get here?‘ I think I’ll actually reread this novel again in the near future so that I can recognize and appreciate all the clues she drops along the way.
Although Little Bastards in Springtime is still my personal favourite, I think Station Eleven is my librarian favourite. Let me explain: Little Bastards was a mesmerizing novel that I know will be with me for years, but I would be very careful about who I recommend it to. On the other hand, Station Eleven was a really fun read; although the post-apocalyptic premise raises some tough questions I would still recommend Station Eleven to anyone and everyone without hesitation.
As a side note, it’s quite a coincidence that I chose this to read right after The Lobster Kings since Shakespeare’s King Lear plays an important role in both. There really are some interesting connections between this years nominees.