I received Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel for free through my university last year. When I first heard the premise, I wasn’t all that interested a) because I wasn’t reading as much as I am right now and I was tired of dystopian-type novels because I felt like that’s all there was on the market, and b) because I had never played an instrument or anything so I wasn’t interested in reading about a traveling symphony.
Goodreads summary for Station Eleven:
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.
Twenty 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.
My Review for Station Eleven:
Station Eleven was interesting, but a little bit disorienting. It was one of those books that involved a lot of seemingly-unrelated characters. But each character makes their way into the story and their connections to other characters are revealed. Personally, that isn’t my favorite method of story-telling. I like to know how characters are related at the start to find interest in them. Otherwise, I don’t really care to learn so much about them when I can’t see how it’s relevant.
I found that I disliked a lot of the characters. I didn’t really connect with one or another.
In real-time (the story following Kirsten, arguably the MC), not much time passed and not many things happened. But Station Eleven contains numerous flashbacks through the rest of the story. Coupled with my disinterest in the characters, the flashbacks made this book drag on for ages.
Station Eleven wasn’t a bad story. It’s a very sad concept, but not something I haven’t read before.
I give Station Eleven 2.5/5 stars.
I’ve completed Day 2 of my 14 Day Reading Challenge!
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