Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
After a catastrophic flu virus wipes out most of the world’s population, the remaining people live precariously in isolated communities. They have little contact with the outside world, apart from a band of musicians and actors known as The Travelling Symphony, who trek from town to town performing Shakespeare and classical music.
This is the fourth novel by Emily St. John Mandel, who is also a staff writer at popular book blog The Millions.
Dystopian literary fiction.
Station Eleven doesn’t have one protagonist. Instead it follows the lives of several intersecting characters before and after the pandemic. The book features a diverse cast of characters, in particular actor Arthur Leander and the Kirsten, the child who played alongside him in King Lear just before the world was changed forever.
Key themes and motifs
- Art and culture as a requirement for human survival.
- Religion, prophecy and apocalypse.
- The ephemeral nature of modern civilisation and technology.
- The impact of memory on loss: is this new world worse for those that remember it well, or those that are too young to have really known it?
- The effect of place on identity.
What’s to love?
This book has an engaging story and I was impressed with the descriptive quality of the writing and the way it didn’t impede the pace of the plot. This vision of the world after the apocalypse is interesting and believable, without being too depressing.
Survival is insufficient.”
Actually, no. It’s been a long time since I read a book and didn’t have anything bad to say about it.
Read it if you enjoyed
- The Three, by Sarah Lotz
- Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
Find out more:
Station Eleven on Amazon (affiliate link)
Please note: I received an advance copy of this novel for review purposes, all opinions are my own.