Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
An audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame, and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, from the author of three highly-acclaimed previous novels.
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 Travelling 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.
My first reaction when I heard about this book was “Oh my gosh, not another post-apocalyptic book”, with flashes to Divergent and The Hunger Games passing through my mind. However, I keep hearing about it, seeing it pop-up in various “Best of 2014” lists so I added it to my hold lists at the library.
And I’m glad I did.
This is an adult fiction novel, not a series, and very different from the books I mentioned above. No crazy fighting for you life or love triangles. It was much more realistic than that – crazy flu happens, world collapses as majority of society dies from flu. The story is much about the survivors, and specifically about those in a traveling Shakespeare theater company / symphony and how their lives, and the lives of characters from before the collapse, are now intertwined.
Overall, I really liked the story. It was interested and I really like the characters. However, I felt the ending was lacking something? It’s hard to explain but I got the end and felt cheated somehow. I kept waiting for that moment when all the threads that the authors cleverly managed throughout the book would be pulled together but it never truly happened? Or it did and it just was anti-climatic.
Don’t let that sway you away from this book though. It truly was a good story and I’ve heard of people 100% loving this book. I still do recommend this book, just be warned about the possible ‘meh’ ending.