Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
On a snowy night, an actor collapses during a play. A man rushes from the audience to help him. A young girl witnesses it all. A caregiver weeps because she is so much more. A relationship is ending it just doesn’t know how. And around the world a flu is rushing through the air like pollen and the next 48 hours are the end of the world as we know it.
There are no phones. No television. No cars or buses or planes. No internet. No Facebook. No updated status. All communication to the rest of the world, if there is a rest of the world, has
Station Eleven is an extremely entwined dystopian novel of the world taken out by a flu virus that leaves only 1% of the population in its wake. The book focuses around the actor, his life, his wives, and the people who surrounded him. As the book goes on, you see that our main characters have all been connected to the actor in some way. The book flashes back to before the flu, and then to present time, where the years started over to One after the epidemic. It is now year Twenty. At times I do not like flash backs, but it works here. Kirsten, who was the little girl in the play, is now part of a Traveling Symphony that travels to areas where people are and the group performs Shakespeare. She is obsessed with all things about the actor who died the night before the flu outbreak, collecting whenever she can find them – magazine articles, newspaper clippings, and she has copies of the two graphic comic books that the actors first wife had created, the first one called Station Eleven.
Sound complicated? It is and it isn’t. There is much to love about this book. The threat of a world-wide flu obviously works and puts the fear factor in the novel. It is written in a unique way which I love, centered around a Traveling Symphony that merely plays for their passion for Shakespeare and music (and really… what else are you going to do in this new world?), there is also a group at an airport that have been there since their plane emergency landed there that twenty years ago. There is a group at a hotel that have taken over rooms as their homes and live as normal a life as they can. And there is a Prophet. A scary man who believes that those who survived the virus are chosen by God and he takes whatever he wants… whenever he wants… food, ammunition, women, and lives.
There is a moment towards the end… an “aha moment” that impressed me when I put a key plot together. I did not see it coming. I was impressed.
But… and I do hate but’s…
There are things I did not enjoy. After the beginning and the big flu scare… the rest of the book is fairly mellow. Any “crisis” is wrapped up too quickly and too neatly. The fear of this new world… is not much. There is also the fact that as you read you have to wonder why some of these groups did not do more… why did the group stay at the airport all that time? I get that they were scared at first to venture out, but after a few months/years wouldn’t you go out and see what is happening? And the book left me feeling there should have been more. I knew as I was reaching the final pages that there was no way this book could wrap up all the loose ends. I then thought that since this book had the same title at the first graphic novel in Kirsten’s possession that surely there must be a plan for a follow-up novel with the title of the second one…. but as of this writing, I seen no signs that the author has plans for a second book.
This review is longer than I had planned because there was much to say. I did like the book. Very much. I do think it needed more action. More scare. Yet I did devourer it as it is unique and I do love unique reads. I am glad I chose it for my first book of the year. If there is no more to this story, then it is one that leaves you with a lot to think about as far as what happened next, and maybe, that is the way the author intended it to be.
Dystopian lovers will enjoy this read and I do recommend it.
Ok, I think we need a spoiler page on this one. I want to talk about the book 🙂
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (September 9, 2014)