I remember seeing all the Station Eleven reviews popping up throughout CBR7 but for whatever reason I didn’t jump on the bandwagon until now. In lieu of a traditional review I’m going to answer a few of fantingviolet’s book club discussion questions.
1. Did you find the shifts between pre- and post-apocalypse to be an effective storytelling technique? How about changing character perspectives? I’ve gone on record saying that multiple character view points combined with too much time jumping can be irritating and I stand by that. I think the time hopping worked in some instances here- primarily the reveal of the Prophet but it was overused in others- like the Year 15 interview. The multiple view points wasn’t as distracting; this was mostly because I enjoyed most of our narrators.
2. Why do you think Station Eleven has been so successful when there are many other novels in a similar vein out there right now? I think Station Eleven was just different enough to become successful in a crowded field of post-apocalyptic novels. For starts most (that I’ve read anyway) are YA and Station Eleven is a bit more mature. Also, there are no governments trying to rule the survivors of the new world for the protagonists to go up against the post-apocalyptic world is the antagonist.
3. Does the novel have a main character? Who would you consider it to be? Obviously everyone who we follow in the weeks preceding and the twenty years after the collapse qualifies as a main character. I suppose Kirsten, Jeevan and Clark have the largest roles while Arthur and Miranda have significant supporting roles. Arthur was probably the most important character because he was the link between everyone else.
7. Different characters we meet have different opinions about teaching children about the pre-collapse world. What are the benefits of remembering, and of forgetting? You can’t learn from other people’s mistakes without studying the past. If the survivors had intentions of rebuilding society their best hope would be teaching young people about what was. However, many of the survivors were content with just surviving in the new world and in that case it seems confusing and cruel to dwell on the past.
All in all I enjoyed Station Eleven more than I thought I would. I was worried it’d be a regurgitation of all the other dystopian novels I’ve read over the years but was pleasantly surprised by the more human take Mandel took with her story.