Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is without doubt a good book. It has ‘The New York Times bestseller’ emblazoned above the title which is one way you can tell. I really enjoyed reading it, which is another. The central event is a devastating plague that wipes out society as we know it (that’s not a spoiler, it says as much in the blurb on the back), and the narrative plays backwards and forwards over this fault line between present and future.
It is beautifully written. Even several weeks later thinking about it conjures up scene after scene, from the accurately described moments of mundanity among the apocalypse to the vividly conjured visions of the world that evolves afterwards. There is a range of nicely drawn characters, and enough excitement and suspense to keep the book in your hand, you don’t want to put it down.
And yet when I finished I was left with a sense of disappointment. Sometimes this happens when you read a good book, you’re just sad that a good thing has ended. In fact sometimes I anticipate the end from about two thirds through, dreading it like an appointment at the dentist.
In this case though I don’t think that was it. To me it didn’t quite resolve at the end, I felt that I was left hanging, like listening to a symphony that ended prematurely on the penultimate note. But maybe that’s the way it is supposed to be.
Neat resolution is rarely a feature of real life.