Station Eleven

Station Eleven

Book - 2014
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"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 Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this 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"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Toronto :, Harper Avenue,, 2014
Edition: First Canadian edition
ISBN: 9781443434867
Characteristics: 333 pages

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SPL_Shauna Apr 16, 2016

This book is a wonderfully wrought example of literary SF. Intricately woven story lines move an ensemble cast of characters through post-pandemic Ontario, Michigan, NY and beyond. Epic in scope, and driven by its characters, it'll appeal to fans of David Mitchell and Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam ... Read More »

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sassie Feb 06, 2016

A few times I found I had to push to keep going in this book, but it was well worth the effort. An unsettling book but leaves the reader with a sense of hope. Even a month after finishing, this book is still sticking with me and I find myself thinking about it and talking about it with others.

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melwyk Sep 25, 2014

Reviewed in Stratford Gazette, Sept. 24, 2014


From the critics


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i
INVS
Dec 22, 2018

OK, now I've read the ebook & find it much better than the audio. Thankfully this author treats the subject with adult perspective as to 'what if'. she brings in all the aspects of human nature to the 'next world' scenario. Nasty prophets trying to control, etc. I did wonder why there are no cats, dogs, yet unnamed creature noises at night. The perspective of no electricity to give us all the so-called comforts we currently employ is a refreshing take on possibilities.

I felt this book would suit most any age reader.

i
INVS
Dec 20, 2018

I've found the audiobook slightly confusing, hard to keep track of characters...of course I keep falling asleep. So I'll try the ebook, as I'm interested to see if it matches my ideal of adult post apocalyptic - or the 'what if' scenario. Thankfully it's adult, not zombies or teenage angst. In my mind it will take stelar heights to match Far North for an adult 'what if' book.

c
catfingers
Dec 19, 2018

Station Eleven is a unique take on apocalyptic fiction, focusing on its characters and their stories over the violent chaos of the early years after the end.
The way the book follows storylines both before and after the flu creates a surreal contrast, showing how one day normal life simply... stopped.

d
DEATHNINJA64
Dec 19, 2018

tis not bad book

z
Zekdeck
Dec 19, 2018

It's a good book i like the plot and the characters.

k
KRShrader
Dec 19, 2018

A little slow in the beginning, and sometimes confusing, but it's totally worth sticking it out to the end. The characters are interesting and funny, and the plot is extremely engaging.

IndyPL_JillL Dec 05, 2018

Such a great read. A perfect recommendation for those who think they don't like scifi. The way the author weaves characters and plot line together is breathtaking. A fun read, but really astounding once your finish and see how you came to the end. I wish I could read it again for the first time.

JCLHebahA Nov 13, 2018

I'm late to the party on this one, but I'm glad I kept it on my towering to-read list. It's unlike a lot of post-apocalyptic stories, many of which focus on the utter dissolution of society as we know it. Station Eleven is about how people deal with soceity-altering events... and come back from them to form something new. There's a bit of menace in the form of a doomsday prophet plotline, but the story is less plot heavy than it is a well-developed study of people who are interconnected in ways they don't likely realize but readers have a chance to see. Give this one to a book group looking for something a little bit different.

l
limedrop
Oct 31, 2018

I enjoyed this novel but it wasn't a favorite. I recommend it for folks who don't usually read science fiction - this seems like a book that would appeal more to those who are more accustomed to literary fiction as the writing is lovely but a bit slow-paced. It seems like a gentle introduction to science-fiction themes to those who don't think of themselves as enjoying the genre. I also had a hard time caring about some of the main characters. Of course characters don't have to be likable, but I do need to have some investment in caring or wanting to know about how their lives turn out. However, Arthur and Kristen's journeys didn't have a compelling arc or character development to me. I am a fan of post-apocalyptic novels and, as a former musician, loved the idea of a traveling symphony/theater. I had hoped the threads of the characters stories might tie together in a more interesting way at the end. I kept hoping for some reveal of how their lives would tie together at the end, or in a way I wasn't aware of from the beginning, but other than crossing each others' paths at various points, they didn't. Another annoyance was having some of the characters have names but others be referred to by their position in the orchestra which seemed implausible and objectifying to me. Otherwise a lovely, lyrical read.

r
ryanstevenreed
Oct 01, 2018

I had seen this book in passing at the library and only vaguely remembered that it looked interesting. Late one night I checked out the ebook and ended up staying awake way too late reading it. Super engaging and poetic. I found myself thinking and talking about this book to anyone who would listen while I read it. It was just all together a refreshing and enjoyable experience to read.

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Quotes

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t
Tjad2L
Jul 13, 2017

"[...] everyone knows when you've got a terrible marriage, it's like having bad breath, you get close enough to a person and it's obvious."

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“She was thinking about the way she’d always taken for granted that the world had certain people in it, either central to her days or unseen and infrequently thought of. How without any one of these people the world is a subtly but unmistakably altered place, the dial turned just one or two degrees.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“They spend all their lives waiting for their lives to begin.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“I stood looking over my damaged home and tried to forget the sweetness of life on Earth.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“The beauty of this world where almost everyone was gone. If hell is other people, what is a world with almost no people in it?”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“It was gorgeous and claustrophobic. I loved it and I always wanted to escape.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“She had never entirely let go of the notion that if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“No one ever thinks they’re awful, even people who really actually are. It’s some sort of survival mechanism.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”

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Summary

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melwyk Sep 25, 2014

One snowy night in Toronto, an actor playing King Lear drops dead on stage. Only 24 hours later, most of the city is dead from a rapidly spreading virus. The few survivors find, as the electricity and water stop, as the internet drops out, that the virus has killed 99% of the world's population.

The question arises: how to live now? In Emily St John Mandel's unusual approach to a post-apocalyptic novel, the survivors of this modern plague retain their longing for community and civilization, trying their best to live in pockets of humanity across North America.

Early on, we meet the Travelling Symphony, a group of musicians and actors who travel caravan-style around the countryside, performing Shakespeare and symphonies to the scattered inhabitants of tiny settlements. As Kirsten, a main character, has tattooed on her arm: Survival is insufficient.

However, this symphony is also heavily armed, as chaos does exist in the new world. There are those in this rough life who rely on violence, including an eerie Prophet who controls a town the Travelling Symphony rolls into at the start of the story. This Prophet and his followers will pursue them for the rest of the book, adding an edge of suspense.

The story weaves back and forth from apocalyptic present to the past, revealing ways in which all the characters are connected. The constant return to 'before' results in a sense of nostalgia for what we haven't yet lost. Mandel points out precious elements of daily life that her characters have lost forever – the taste of an orange, the feel of air conditioning, ice cream, the ability to connect with one another by phone.

Throughout the book we also encounter Dr. Eleven, a scientist in a graphic novel that Kirsten has carried with her over the many years of post-apocalyptic life. The two volumes she owns of this tiny graphic novel sustain her. Dr. Eleven lives on a satellite, Station Eleven, after the earth is destroyed, and his story reflects her own. This imaginary graphic novel is fleshed out so wonderfully that I hope it is only a matter of time before Mandel releases a real-life edition.

This is a beautiful book; imaginative and full of complex characters, it is a post-apocalyptic novel that combines danger with beauty, sadness with hope. Mandel clearly believes that there is something good in humanity that will endure.

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