Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @EmilyMandel

Published: 2014
Publisher: Knopf
Genre: Dystopia, Post-apocalypse
Hardback: 352 pages
Rating: 5

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 Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, 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.

Zombie sighting:
Twenty-third Street wasn't busy — a little early for the lunch crowd — but he kep getting trapped behind iPhone zombies, people half his age who wandered in a dream with their eyes fixed on their screens.
-chapter 26, page 160

My two-bits:
Loved the intermingling of past, present, apocalypse and post-apocalyse in regards to pop-culture, theatre, music, and a comic book.

Survival with its dangers in a post-apocalyptic world is portrayed somewhat beautifully in this story. Beautiful? yes, weird to say it, but yes.

Special treat:

Nathan Burton's rendition of the fictional comic mentioned in the book:

Imagination Designs
Images from: Lovelytocu