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Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel - Review

Thursday, August 20, 2015

So, I don't always read YA literature, I probably read half YA and half other fiction. I like literary fiction and I love crime novels (the gorier the better). When I was a teenager I read mostly adult novels, including some which are still my favourites (like 1984 by George Orwell and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath), and I think teenagers deserve access to appropriate adult novels as much as they deserve access to YA literature.

With that in mind, I've decided I will review adult novels that I think are suitable for older teens, and I will flag up content that may be difficult for readers. If you're a parent, librarian, or teacher, I'm sure you can discern whether a particular teen is ready for a certain book - I hope to help that in a small way!

So recently I read Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel and I loved it. I want everyone to read it! I've lent it to my 19 year old Eng Lit student cousin. Here's my review:

Where did I get it? I bought it. 

What's it about? A man playing King Lear dies on stage in Toronto and a trainee paramedic goes to help him, watched by a little girl playing one of the King's daughters. Later, the paramedic is told that a flu has arrived from Eastern Europe and is rapidly killing off the population. Twenty years later, the little girl is now in a travelling Shakespeare theatre company, in a country where only 10% of the population survived and where people have congregated in abandoned towns defended fiercely. The theatre company keeps moving, playing music and performing Shakespeare, in some kind of homage to the past. We learn about the actor playing King Lear and those around him, all of whose stories are woven tightly together.

What age range is it for? 15+, I would think. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, although it's not explicit until quite close to the end. 

Are any main characters non-white? Yes.

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Yes, quite a few are after the epidemic

Is there any sex stuff? Very little.

Are drugs mentioned or used? No. 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, that's sort of the premise. Some are more violent than others, so be warned for violence. I must also raise a warning for suicide. 

Are there swear words? A few, but not many. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes, definitely. It's a fantastic example of a post-apocalyptic novel (something which I've longed enjoyed) and deserves its place alongside something like The Handmaid's Tale or even the Hunger Games trilogy. If you like those novels, I would recommend this for you. 

How many stars? 9 out of 10 - fantastic. 

Where is the book going now? It's currently with my cousin, but I'll be after it back! 

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