Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
I purchased a signed copy from Amazon U.K. I decided to go with the U.K. version because the cover and the bright hot pink end-papers were so much nicer than the U.S. version. It’s a gorgeous cover.
So, where do I begin when I love a book so much? It was just so beautifully written that there were many times that I stopped reading just to soak it in. As I got deeper into the story, and got to know the characters better, I realized that I liked just about every one of the main characters. That’s not always the case, and it shows how well written and thought out these characters are.
The story starts off with an actor dying on stage, and how that affects our main characters: his ex-wife & son, a young girl who is also in the play, and the EMT who is in the audience and tries to help. What we learn from that night, as the EMT walks home from the theatre, is that a deadly pandemic has affected the world and people are rapidly dying in large numbers. By the time the story jumps ahead 20 years, 98% of the world’s population is gone; and with that so is everything that we’ve come to rely on. There is no more technology, no cars, no planes, no one to run businesses or power stations, and what is left of the human race has to figure out how to survive and to preserve what’s left of humanity.
That brings us to the travelling caravan of actors and musicians who move from outpost to outpost, bringing with them a little bit of hope and entertainment to what’s left of the world. It’s here that we meet someone from earlier in the book, and see how some of these characters are intertwined, and how 2 objects link the past with the present. What we learn about our main characters is heartbreaking and sad as their stories bounce through the past and the present. We also meet some of the other characters that are not necessarily linked to the main group of characters, but play an important role in describing how they are surviving. One in particular was a favorite, as he collects things from the past to remind those that survived the initial outbreak of what was lost, and for those who are too young to remember, what life was like before – a life that they’ve only heard about.
Needless to say, this book will take its place as one of my all time favorites, and I just can’t gush enough over it…and I’m not alone. It’s on everyone’s “best of” list, and if you check out the author’s link above you’ll see for yourself how many awards and prizes this book has won.
This one is going to stay with me for a very long time.
A couple of notes:
- There is a great interview with the author, Emily St. John Mandel, on the Midnight in Karachi podcast: http://www.tor.com/2015/05/07/midnight-in-karachi-episode-12-emily-st-john-mandel/
- If you like this book, check out The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker.
- WARNING – This may be a considered a spoiler – I was also very surprised when something fell out of the book towards the end. It was a folded up page of the comic Station Eleven, just at the exact moment that the page fell from the Prophet’s book of the New Testament. Very clever.