Station Eleven: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Station Eleven“I’m talking about these people who’ve ended up in one life instead of another and they are just so disappointed. Do you know what I mean? They’ve done what’s expected of them. They want to do something different but it’s impossible now, there’s a mortgage, kids, whatever, they’re trapped…You probably encounter people like him all the time. High-functioning sleepwalkers, essentially.”

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And so it begins. How often is the world we live in one step away from annihilation? No, not a comet hitting the Yucatan peninsula, but one choice, one small event or virus that could change the way we live. Have you ever seen an actor who left a lifetime impression on you? For Kirsten Raymonde, that person is Arthur Leander, who is a famous Hollywood actor. Unfortunately, she remembers Leander having a heart attack during a production of King Lear.

That same night was an unlucky night for many. As Leander is dying, many are just receiving a flu bug that will quickly become a global pandemic, ending the world as we know it, leaving alive only 1% of the global population. After twenty years, Kirsten is part of a traveling group of actors and musicians sharing their art with the chosen ones who have survived. Life has changed substantially in twenty-years, deteriorating from a global world of communication and travel to basic day-to-day survival with the influence of a prophet.

Station Eleven is the fourth novel written by Emily St. John Martel and was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pen/Faulkner Award.

Station Eleven is about the people in how they interact in attempting to rebuild civilization. The idea of sharing music and theater in a survivalist society provides a bit of hope and light in this dim post-apocryphal tale.

The characterization in Station Eleven, I found hopeful with these diverse people who are often shallow to incredibly deep while learning to rebuild humanity, transportation, civilization, and a sense of belonging. The importance of being a part of a community and the need to be needed are embedded as the story alters between the past and the present.