Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Published: September 9th 2014 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2014)
Genre: Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Post-Epidemic
Format: E-Book on my Amazon Kindle
Notes: Gorgeous cover and interesting take on the world ending.
Station Eleven centers around the world amidst a flu epidemic called the Georgia Flu. Flights carried the flu worldwide and because the incubation time was quick, the effects were devastating.
Now, with this premise alone, you'd probably relate it to dozens of post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels. What makes this book unique and a pleasure to read is that it centers around a famous celebrity, named Arthur Leander, and his ex-wives; Miranda was a comic book artist who created a series called Station Eleven and another wife of his named Elizabeth who had his only son. Arthur died on stage playing King Lear a few days before the Georgia Flu became an epidemic. As he collapsed on stage, a man named Jeevan tried to revive him and made an impression on a little girl named Kirsten who was a minor character in the play, King Lear.
All of these characters, and more, experience the world ending and live in the new world after the virus fades away. The way they are all connected is incredibly impressive and the time hopping back and forth is seamless and easy to follow.
Kirsten, the little child actress who worked briefly with Arthur Leander, is now with a group of people called the Traveling Symphony. They travel and perform Shakespeare in the midwest. Why are they performing Shakespeare?
"...Shakespeare had lived in a plague-ridden society with no electricity and so did the Traveling Symphony."
Being from the midwest myself, I found it pretty awesome that the book mentions places like Mackinaw City. I've camped in Mackinaw! Kirsten has a copy of Station Eleven that Arthur gave her and as an adult, when looking for supplies in homes and businesses, she keeps an eye out for paparazzi photos of Arthur in old magazines. She collects them because she associates her past life as one with Arthur Leander. She was only eight years old when the world ended and remembers more of Arthur than her own parents.
There's little settlements in the midwest that the symphony visits throughout their "tour" and on this particular leg of the tour, they get word of a prophet who's using force to collect wives and guns. As if traveling in the new world wasn't dangerous enough, now the symphony has to deal with running into the prophet. Who is this prophet? I'll leave that for you to learn.
"No one ever thinks they're awful, even people who really actually are. It's some sort of survival mechanism."
Around the 50% mark of the book I was having difficulty staying interested. I found that I wasn't having a connection with any of the characters. I might blame that on just finishing 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami--that book was 1100 pages of character development. I stuck with this book and found it very satisfying. It picked up toward the 70% mark. Overall, it was very enjoyable and an interesting take on the end of the world.