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The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel book review


The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel book review

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel this is the follow-up to Emily St. John Mandel's extremely popular book station eleven, which is going through a bit of a resurgence right now because apparently people want to read books that are about flu epidemics. 

I don't get it, but you know you do you. But anyways this book just came out in March. And I read station 11 back when that originally came out and I loved it so, so much. I am one of those people who was super excited when I saw that Emily St. John Mandel was coming out with another book. 

But I will admit that I had heard like tempered feelings towards this book. I know a couple of people who really loved it. I know a couple of other people who were not big fans of it. And so I was kind of intrigued just to see sort of what this book was about. 

And I will just say like off the bat, in case you're interested, this is not the same as station eleven. But it is also has elements of station 11. So yeah. So I'm gonna try my best to do a plot synopsis of this book, but it's gonna be kind of hard because there's a lot happening in this story. 

So there is this character named Vincent who grew up in this like small town outside of Vancouver. But like outside of even a town outside of Vancouver. Like she lived on this tiny little island where eventually this glass hotel is built. 

You're also following a little bit her half-brother named Paul who is addicted to drugs. He's been in and out of rehab. He's not really sure what he's doing with his life. Vincent eventually ends up working at this glass hotel along with Paul. And while she's working as a bartender at the hotel, she ends up meeting the owner of the hotel named Jonathan. 

They end up forming a relationship and she leaves her bartending job in order to be his partner. Jonathan not only owns the hotel but he's also like the owner of this extremely successful financial company. 

And you pretty early on find out that Jonathan ends up getting arrested for running a Ponzi scheme basically. The Ponzi scheme detail is given on the back of the book but you know pretty early on that he ends up getting arrested. And so this is a book that jumps timelines and jumps points of view. 

So you follow these characters through various points of their life leading up to and around this sort of fall of this big financial person, but even past that point as well. So that's kind of like why it's hard to give a synopsis of this book because there's a lot of ground that this book covers. And those like characters that I mentioned are probably like the most dominant characters in this book. 

Like Vincent to me feels like the most main character in here but it doesn't feel like there's really a main character in here. There are a lot of other characters whose point of views you follow that I didn't even bother to mention here because that will make this synopsis significantly more convoluted than it needs to be. 

But it's basically about like mainly these three characters, two to three characters and like other people who were involved in their lives around them over various points of time. 

So yeah, like I said at the top of the book, this book is not station 11. So if you're going into this like expecting station 11 levels of brilliance, I don't think you're gonna find it. But there are elements in here that feel very reminiscent of station 11. 

You know, the time hopping, the multiple storylines and the multiple perspectives and things like that feel very reminiscent of station 11. Also Emily St. John Mandel is still like a really great writer on like a sentence level and like an individual like passage sort of level. 

There are some really brilliantly written things in here and some characters in here that are really interesting and you want to know more about and things like that. You can see like a lot of the strengths of what Emily St. John Mandel can do in this book. 

However at the same time, there's kind of a lack of focus in this book as well. And I think that's kind of conveyed in the fact that it's really hard to get this book a plot synopsis. 

To me the most like interesting storyline is the one of Vincent. You follow her over the course of her, a lot of her life where you find out that when she was young her mother died. Her and Paul have a really like contentious and weird relationship, if you can even call it that. 

She works at this hotel but she doesn't want to be living in her town anymore, and then she ends up joining Jonathan in this arrangement I'll just say. You see sort of like what she does with access to like significant amounts of money and then sort of what she chooses to do after like he gets arrested and all of this stuff. And the choices that she makes in the way she chooses to live her life to me is absolutely fascinating. I was so into all of that. 

However, at the same time, there's also a lot of storylines in here that don't feel quite as interesting. So a lot of the stuff with Jonathan and the Ponzi scheme and the financial company and all that stuff is set around 2008 and is a Ponzi scheme that Emily St. John Mandel herself said is based on -- oh I'm not gonna remember the guys name, but the major Ponzi scheme that happened during the midst of the financial crisis. 

And so she herself has admitted that it's sort of like influenced by that story. To me, there's a lot of like details, especially in like the middle section of the book, where you're finding out a lot about the Ponzi scheme and this financial company and the stuff that they're doing and I'm just like not really into it. 

And I think it's because one, I lived through that financial crisis and so I'm kind of aware of how it all went down to a certain degree. And this book wasn't showing me anything new. 

If anything, it was trying to like explain the points of view of people who were in those situations and the reasons why they made the choices that they did. But at the same time I feel like it never really gave a good explanation for the choices that they made. 

It's just sort of like, they made some bad decisions and then they continued to just keep going down that path until they were really far down that path. And I don't find that to be a very compelling excuse, personally. 

But I don't know. I shouldn't be like judging them too harshly because I've never been in those situations. 

But yeah, you follow characters like Jonathan who's running this big financial company and I think there's a part of Emily st. John Mandel who wanted to paint a relatively sympathetic view of this character and I couldn't find him sympathetic at all. 

Like you follow him while he's in jail and you start to see him going through like a mental decline and stuff like that and I wasn't very moved or intrigued by any of his storyline. You also follow a little bit some of the other people who worked at the financial company who are involved in the Ponzi scheme and I didn't really find them to be compelling enough either. 

I think it's partially because you don't get introduced to them until you're like at least a third if not more into the novel and at that point switching to their point of view didn't really provide me with a whole lot. And I really just wanted to get back to Vincent's point of view. 

I also found Paul, her half-brother, to be not great. Like he plays a key role in the story to a certain degree, but at the same time he also plays very little to no role in this story. And it's really hard to explain quite why. 

Like this synopsis on Goodreads says what he does but it doesn't like say it explicitly in the beginning of the book what he does, so I'm not gonna say it explicitly. 

So yeah, he like plays a role in the plotline of this story overall but you get so much about like his backstory and what happens to him in his life that I didn't really find it that interesting. 

There's also like a little bit of a ghost or spiritual element to the story. Or I shouldn't say spiritual, but like spirit element to the story that again just wasn't really doing much for me. 

So like those like elements of the story, I just really couldn't vibe with. But at the same time, I was really compelled by this story. I think the storylines that I loved in here I like truly loved, but the storylines I did not care for I really did not care for. 

And so I kind of like fell on two extremes of me either like caring about the story or not carrying at all about the story. But in the end, I gave this book like a three and a half out of five stars because I really love the way Emily St. John Mandel writes. And like I said, when I enjoyed this book, I was really into it.

This book is split into three parts and the first part was like my favorite part. Like when I was reading this book and I got through the first part of the book, I was like, oh, I think I'm gonna be one of those people who ends up loving this book because it was like totally engaging. 

The characters were fascinating. I was very intrigued to see where it was going to go. And then in the second part, it kind of like stumbles for me because it gets more and more into like this financial Ponzi scheme situation. 

And it's interesting in the sense of like how it changes a lot of the course of like Vincent's life and things like that. But to me I was way more fascinated by just like the choices Vincent was making in her life and how she was playing a certain role and trying to figure out what she wanted her life to be and how she was defining success and stuff like that. 

And there's this whole other section to Vincent's life after Jonathan gets arrested that like is just barely touched upon. And I was so much more interested in finding out what happened to her versus going deeper into the lives of these extra characters. 

Like there's one character in here who like runs a shipping company or something like that, and he makes like two appearances in this book, maybe three. And his last appearance, it took me a while to even remember who he was and you get like part of his backstory and then he like plays a larger part into the storyline of Vincent. 

But that didn't even seem to provide that much information about Vincent. And yeah, I just feel like maybe Emily St. John Mandel was trying to do too much with this book. 

She did a lot with station 11 but this feels like one where some of the perspectives and some of the like story lines and things like that probably could have been cut out of this book completely and it wouldn't have made that much of a difference in my opinion. 

But that's coming from me who is not the biggest fan of multiple perspective books. So, you know, take that into account as well. So yeah, like I said, I gave it a three and a half out of five stars. 

I don't want to like dissuade people from reading this book because again, when I love this book I really loved it. But I also want to let people know that this is not going to live up to station eleven sort of expectations. 

Like I went into this with lowered expectations because of what I was hearing and I think that also helped me enjoy this book a little bit more. 

So yeah, I would say like temper your expectations with this book and you'll probably enjoy it a lot more. Wow, is that a backhanded compliment or what? Anyways. So yeah, those are my quick thoughts on the glass hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. 

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