Saturday, January 10, 2015

Book Review: "Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel

"Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel
First published in 2014
333 pages
My rating: 5 out of 5
Image from Goodreads

What better way start off a new year than devouring a superb 5-star novel? "Station Eleven" was the best book I've read in months, a fantastic tale that depicts the end of life as we know it due to a flu pandemic that rapidly wipes out most of earth's human population.

St. John Mandel has crafted a handful of wonderful characters whom we meet either before or after the collapse -- or both, in the case of the survivors -- and whose stories all intersect to form the beautifully complex plot. Our main guide between past and present is Kirsten, a young child acting in a production of "King Lear" when the deadly Georgia Flu hits. Twenty years later, she's part of the Traveling Symphony, a group of artistically-minded survivors who caravan from settlement to settlement playing music and performing Shakespeare -- because, as they proclaim in a line from Star Trek, "survival is not enough."

The novelty of a post-apocalyptic symphony and troupe of actors should be enough to make you pick up "Station Eleven." But if it's not, consider the existence of a dangerous religious prophet, some hand-drawn comic books with a story all their own, a famous Hollywood actor and his three ex-wives, a Museum of Civilization, a world where your tattoos show how many people you've killed. Every part of St. John Mandel's novel is a gripping, haunting, true portrait of humanity, and somehow it also manages to be a hell of a fun read.

If you think post-apocalyptic fiction isn't your thing, don't worry -- "Station Eleven" has enough literary merit and fresh material, not to mention fantastic writing, to keep any reader interested. And don't even bother reading the book jacket; you don't want to spoil any of the amazing plot. Just jump right in!

1 comment:

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