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.
Fifteen 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.
Emily St. John Mandel was born in Canada and studied dance at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. She is the author of the novels Last Night in Montreal, The Singer's Gun, The Lola Quartet and Station Eleven and is a staff writer for The Millions. She is married and lives in New York.
My review for The Singer's Gun
Better than I thought from the beginning!
The beginning was focused on these actors and what-not, and with all the flipping around in the story, it almost had a Birdman quality to it. I didn't think too highly of that movie, so the start of the book was hard to push through.
I'm so glad I did though. About halfway, the story really picked up speed and all the things that didn't make sense, started to. The pieces starting fitting together nicely.
A couple of times the book was predictable, but for each predictable thing, there was something to blow your mind away too!
It was a little strange in parts, but it worked. Some parts needed that element of strange to really put the reader in the right mood.
The thing that gets me most is how we can all relate to the story in a sense. It's about the aftermath of a plague of sorts. With SARS and Ebola, just to name a couple, we know that this could actually happen. We could all get wiped out by a sickness. That notion helped propel me to read and feel some excitement throughout the story.
This is a good post-apocalyptic novel, told from several viewpoints. Many will enjoy reading it immensely.
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