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Station Eleven: A novel by Emily St. John…
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Station Eleven: A novel (original 2014; edition 2014)

by Emily St. John Mandel

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,1293791,216 (4.1)662
Member:TheAlternativeOne
Title:Station Eleven: A novel
Authors:Emily St. John Mandel
Info:Knopf (2014), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Science Fiction

Work details

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)

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    BookshelfMonstrosity: An ensemble cast of flu survivors journey across the U.S. and through the remains of civilization to fulfill their fated roles in these novels. The Stand is more graphic and action-packed, with a clear theme of good vs. evil.
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» See also 662 mentions

English (376)  All (1)  German (1)  All (378)
Showing 1-5 of 376 (next | show all)
I thought I added this three days ago, but apparently didn't. I finished it last night and mulled how I would rate this.

In the world of craft beer (and, I imagine, wine), people sometimes seem to review the rarity rather than the content of a bottle. Mediocre at best beers often get bafflingly high ratings...sort of the Kardashians of beer - famous, but nobody knows why. Okay, no one who actually has taste in beer knows why. So, why the beer story to start a book review? Well, I find a corollary exists in popular novels, where people may not think a novel is that good, but they see that other people rate it high and give vacuous glowing reviews, so they give their own equally elevated review.

I don't.

This is a book that I heard about on a local NPR show talking about the year's best books. As I'd already read the year's best fiction (okay, best in my opinion, but Andy Weir's The Martian is a rare five-star fiction). The writing is pretty good, but the story is weak and uninspired. I find unlikely coincidences to be very annoying. Screenwriters unimaginatively use them too much, but when a novel does...and does so pervasively...well, the author lacks imagination, invokes the artificial, and is too sadly quite predictable (no spoiler, but once the code about the convenient coincidences is broken very early on, one plot "twist" is so, so obvious long before it is revealed...) It's even worse if the setting of the coincidences is dystopiann - the "unlikely" becomes absurd. Now, I certainly understand tying characters together, but these relationships seem far too contrived, and the confluences more so.

The author also seems to not understand human nature...particularly gender thinking, unless she was trying to...uh, make an obscure point? For me to see that means it's obvious and misplaced. I'm sure a reader more intuitive or empathetic would be more confused and likely to see more incongruities.

The author said in an interview, "I wanted to write a love letter to this extraordinary world in which we live." She has an odd way of showing that "love"...like writing a love letter to an extinct species...absence makes the heart grow fonder? Perhaps I am too obtuse to see anything other than a very odd writing style (characters referred to not by name, but by instruments they play?), shallow and undeveloped named characters, a highly cliched and unimaginative (perhaps I've overused that adjective in this review?) post-apocalyptic "prophet"?

In the end, this is an uneven mishmash of vignettes, tenuously and forced character ties, while well written, if naively so.

Still, it engaged me enough to find out how she would finish it.
( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
Really, really good.

I just want more detail about how the world would respond and recover. ( )
  DanCopulsky | May 16, 2017 |
Station Eleven is Emily St. John Mandel’s fourth novel, and it displays the sure and steady hand of a seasoned writer calmly working with dramatically explosive material. The novel is science fiction, but only in the sense that Sci-Fi elements are used to explore and comment upon aspects of the human condition that would be difficult if not impossible to address within a more traditional framework. Sometime in the late 20th or early 21st century, humanity is hit by a devastating pandemic (the Georgia Flu) that wipes out 99% of the world’s population. We meet a group of survivors 20 years after the event, when the absolute worst is behind them and pockets of a new civilized society are beginning to form. However, Mandel does not simply give us a story about devastation and horror. The novel begins pre-calamity, at a theatre in Toronto, where Arthur Leander is giving his final performance in the title role of King Lear. The play is stopped when Arthur collapses. An audience member vaults onto the stage and gamely tries to revive the stricken actor, but fails. Arthur’s death seems almost to trigger what follows, because later that night the pandemic reaches North America and everything changes. 20 years later, Kirsten Raymonde, who we met at the theatre where she was a child extra in the Lear production, is a member of a roving band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony, which has survived over many years by winning the trust of an audience spread over a wide area, exchanging entertainment for food, and by cunning, stealth and occasionally violence. But Kirsten’s story is just one among many of those who survived the epidemic and who remember what life was like before everything fell apart. Mandel’s narrative roves freely from past to present and back again, making surprising connections and showing us how small gestures and seemingly trivial decisions from a distant past have a major influence on the present. Station Eleven is a novel that creates a world all its own. Mandel’s post-apocalyptic vision is frightening, haunting and eerily convincing. The tale she weaves is suspenseful and moving. To anyone who finds the Sci-Fi label an obstacle: do yourself a favour and read the book anyway. At its core, Station Eleven is a literary novel that will appeal to anyone with an appetite for intelligent storytelling and evocative prose. ( )
  icolford | May 14, 2017 |
This is a post apocalyptic novel. The Georgian flu with short incubation period has wiped out most of the human population and the novel starts twenty years after the event. There are two types of people remaining. There are those who were grown up during the pandemic and then there are those who were children or not born at that moment. The entire novel is about the different ways the people are adjusting to the new world. There is beauty, intrigue, danger and and hope in this new world and it's presented beautifully. An excellent novel. ( )
  mausergem | May 13, 2017 |
Non-linear storytelling. We go back and forth between before the pandemic and years later. ( )
  nx74defiant | May 7, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 376 (next | show all)
Station Eleven is not so much about apocalypse as about memory and loss, nostalgia and yearning; the effort of art to deepen our fleeting impressions of the world and bolster our solitude. Mandel evokes the weary feeling of life slipping away, for Arthur as an individual and then writ large upon the entire world.
added by zhejw | editThe Guardian, Justine Jordan (Sep 25, 2014)
 
Survival may indeed be insufficient, but does it follow that our love of art can save us? If “Station Eleven” reveals little insight into the effects of extreme terror and misery on humanity, it offers comfort and hope to those who believe, or want to believe, that doomsday can be survived, that in spite of everything people will remain good at heart, and that when they start building a new world they will want what was best about the old.
added by zhejw | editNew York Times, Sigrid Nunez (Sep 12, 2014)
 
Mandel’s solid writing and magnetic narrative make for a strong combination in what should be a breakout novel.
added by sturlington | editKirkus Reviews (Jun 17, 2014)
 
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Epigraph
The bright side of the planet moves toward darkness
And the cities are falling asleep, each in its hour,
And for me, now as then, it is too much.
There is too much world.
—Czeslaw Milosz
The Separate Notebooks
Dedication
In Memory of Emilie Jacobson
First words
The king stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored. This was act 4 of King Lear, a winter night at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto.
Quotations
Jeevan's understanding of disaster preparedness was based entirely on action movies, but on the other hand, he'd seen a lot of action movies.
There had always been a massive delicate infrastructure of people, all of them working unnoticed around us, and when people stop going to work, the entire operation grinds to a halt.
I was here for the end of electricity.
He would jettison everything that could possibly be thrown overboard, this weight of money and possessions, and in this casting off he'd be a lighter man.
We traveled so far and your friendship meant everything. It was very difficult, but there were moments of beauty. Everything ends. I am not afraid.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night, Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a performance 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 goodbyes, 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.

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"An audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame, and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, from the author of three highly acclaimed previous novels. 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 suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding 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 TravelingSymphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, 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"--… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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