My Rating: 5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.
One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains – this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.
Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.
I’m not usually one to go for a sci-fi read. But although this book’s plot centers around a virus outbreak that leads to the end of civilization, it is also about humanity and our connections to the world and one another. Emily St. John Mandel frequently comments on the magical nature of instantaneous communication the world enjoyed before the collapse and how much it was taken for granted. And I think this is an excellent point. Even though older generations may mock the use of social media, it really does keep us all connected in all of life’s moments, be they good, bad, or mundane. And St. John Mandel connects this more broadly to what it means to be human, or even to exist.
“No more internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars.”
I also loved how St. John Mandel connected the characters in really interesting ways. At the beginning of Station Eleven, we are quickly introduced to five characters and then the story takes off from there. It’s difficult to explain how their lives intersect without ruining the story, and so I’ll refrain from going into more detail. But through these intersections, St. John Mandel interjects hope for the future. Yes, it will take some time, but old friends and family will find one another again. We can rebuild the old world together.
Each character in Station Eleven is unique and rings true to real life, which is impressive for a science fiction novel. I especially liked Kristen and Miranda, and reading about their lives before and after the world fell. Kristen’s story is particularly interesting because she was a child when civilization collapsed and she only half remembers things and is often unsure if she dreamed a facet of life before or if it really happened. This includes airplanes, light switches, and the internet. This book features all sorts of characters, making this book a unique read from start to finish. You’ll love lots of characters and want lots of them to go away forever, too.
Overall, I loved this book! I’ve put off reading it for years because it didn’t sound like my cup of tea, but wow was I mistaken. The story is just so incredibly well written, I found myself actually gasping aloud as a I read. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
This book is…
full of interesting characters
Page Count: 333
Available here from IndieBound.
Have you read Station Eleven? What dystopian novel would you recommend?