Review- The Glass Hotel

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel


Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship. Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts. 

Begin at the end: plummeting down the side of the ship in the storm’s wild darkness, breath gone with the shock of falling, my camera flying away through the rain-

Where to even begin with this review? The Glass Hotel was not at all what I was expecting, in both a good and bad way. I had heard so much about Mandel’s first novel, Station Eleven, so I think I built up this book in my mind. Don’t get me wrong- I am happy I read it and I will be reading Station Eleven at some point (I think it hits a little too close to home right now), but I guess I just felt the story was forgettable. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but it won’t be something I continue to think about.

You can see from the first line just how talented an author Mandel truly is. The writing was the highlight of the book for me. There were so many beautiful lines and she managed to bring her story and characters to life. Speaking of characters, there were many of them. It took me a while to get a handle on all of them but the effort was worth it. It was interesting to see how all of their stories wove together. Each character was so dynamic and every one of them could have been the leads in their own novel. Once again, a book with unlikeable yet compelling characters- my favourite.

The timeline was often confusing as it seemed to jump all over the place. It took some getting used to! It was not until I was about a third way into the book that I felt like I finally had a grip on the story and where it was going.

I am not too sure how I feel about the ending. If/when you read this book I would love to discuss it with you!

It has been a long time since I felt this conflicted about a book and maybe that is the whole point.

Thank you for sending me a free ALC in exchange for an honest review.

12 thoughts on “Review- The Glass Hotel

  1. I’m glad to read your review! I’ve really been on the fence about reading this. I did love Station Eleven (but you’re right, maybe too close to reality right now).

  2. Great review! I’m very curious to read this one after liking Station Eleven, but I keep trying to remind myself this is a totally different book and that I need to adjust my expectations accordingly. I’m glad you enjoyed Glass Hotel even if it didn’t quite live up to the hype, and I hope you’ll like Station Eleven!

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