Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Luminous Station Eleven A Unique Post-Apocalyptic Must-Read

(Image from author's website)

On an otherwise ordinary winter's night in Toronto, Canada, a famous actor dies onstage during a performance of King Lear.  Jeevan Chaudhary, a papparazzo turned EMT, rushes from his seat in the audience to pump the man's heart back into action.  He fails, while Kristen Raymonde, an 8-year-old actress, looks on in horror.  The night is memorable not just for the actor's death, but because it's the night a devastating flu epidemic begins to spread with deadly speed.  The carnage is only beginning.  

Fifteen years later, Kristen is traveling the ruined, post-apocalyptic world with a band of actors and musicians.  For them, life isn't just about survival, it's about preserving the art and music that once flourished all around them.  It's about sharing beauty, spreading joy even in desperate circumstances.  Risking their own safety, the Traveling Symphony performs concerts and plays in makeshift settlements all around the Great Lakes region.  While the area is mostly safe, danger always lurks around the corner in this strange, new land.

As the Traveling Symphony encounters a chilling menace, the tale sweeps back and forth in time, filling in the back stories of the main players.  As their pasts and presents intertwine, it's their relationships that sustain them, their bravery that saves them, and their desire for a life beyond mere survival that elevates them.

It's tough to describe the plot of Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel's award-winning novel.  It's even harder to explain its luminous, elegiac beauty.  To say it's unique, different from other post-apocalyptic stories, just doesn't seem quite adequate.  It's true, though.  Most dystopians rely heavily on dramatic plot surprises to keep the reader turning pages—Station Eleven leans on its characters.  They're complex enough, interesting enough, to command the reader's attention all on their own.  It's the discovery of who the characters are at heart, plus finding the clever twists of fate that connect them that makes this novel such a pleasure to read.  I wish I could capture the magic of this book in words, but I just can't.  Luckily, there's an easy (and enjoyable) solution—Read Station Eleven for yourself. 

(Readalikes:  Um, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for strong language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder invectives), violence, depictions of illegal drug use, and mild sexual innuendo/content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Station Eleven from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.  

1 comment:

  1. I'm getting more and more interested in this one. I like the idea that it's more about character then the world the author created.

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