Let’s just be real for a minute. You don’t really need me to tell you how amazing this book is (but, it IS amazing). It was a National Book Award finalist. It has been reviewed so. many. times. It’s on the Tournament of Books long list. Emily St. John Mandel is magic, basically. She creates a world so like our own, and then takes it away in one fell swoop with the Georgia Flu. In the year of Ebola, this hit extremely close to home for a lot of people, myself included.
But, what makes Station Eleven so incredibly readable, so relatable, is the way the characters interact with each other. Mandel’s observations on life as we knew and lost it are incredible, and so many quotes stood out for me as being almost scarily accurate to how life would be if something like the Georgia Flu ever did really happen.
On love and loss: “Hell is the absence of the people you long for.”
On being alone in a new world:“The beauty of this world where almost everyone was gone. If hell is other people, what is a world with almost no people in it?”
On adulthood complacency: “Adulthood’s full of ghosts. …I’m talking about these people who’ve ended up in one life instead of another and they are just so disappointed. Do you know what I mean? They’ve done what’s expected of them.They want to do something different but it’s impossible now, there’s a mortgage, kids, whatever, they’re trapped. …You probably encounter people like him all the time. High functioning sleepwalkers, essentially.”
On the connections we take for granted: “We bemoaned the impersonality of the modern world, but that was a lie, it seemed to him; it had never been impersonal at all. There had always been a massive delicate infrastructure of people, all of them working unnoticed around us, and when people stop going to work, the entire operation grinds to a halt. No one delivers fuel to the gas stations or the airports. Cars are stranded. Airplanes cannot fly. Trucks remain at their points of origin. Food never reaches the cities; grocery stores close. Businesses are locked and then looted. No one comes to work at the power plants or the substations, no one removes fallen trees from electrical lines.”
On the unnoticeable passage of time: “There are certain qualities of light that blur the years.”
On memory: “What I mean to say is, the more you remember, the more you’ve lost.”
On the people we don’t notice until they’re gone: “She was thinking about the way she’d always taken for granted that the world had certain people in it, either central to her days or unseen and infrequently thought of. How without any one of these people the world is a subtly but unmistakably altered place, the dial turned just one or two degrees.”