STATION ELEVEN – by Emily St John Mandel


  Book Review

I waited  nearly two years for the book to surface in a bookstore or library in Cape Town. In the end I succumbed to Book Depository’s excellent prices and bought it on-line. It was worth both the money and the wait.

The book is a dystopian novel set in Canada after a world ‘flu pandemic kills 99% of the population.

A small group of actors and musicians band together to form the Travelling Symphony. Not only do they perform music, but also Shakespearean plays, which have proved to be the most popular items in their repertoire. Despite the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know it,  Shakespeare’s work proves to be enduring!

Twenty years later they are still travelling on their well established circuit in the Great Lakes region, visiting the tiny settlements where people are gamely starting over.

What was so good was that the story didn’t haul out the tired tropes of Mad Max, or a pack of Zombies!  However, a religious polygamous  cult who provided the  danger element to the story, which affected lead character Kirsten. Both  Kirstin and the cult  proved to be linked directly back to the pivotal character,  Arthur Leander.

The book is beautifully written and  elegantly plotted. Despite the grim premise, the story is engaging and the characters likeable. The theme of Interconnectedness is cleverly woven through the narrative, via the life of Arthur Leander, a famous actor; we see him before and during the pandemic, and the reverberations of his life continuing to affect survivors  in the post-apocalyptic world.

The interesting issues were:

What the world lost (apart from inhabitants) : technology and science – there’s no electricity and therefore no Internet  – imagine the effect of these losses on daily life?

And a big question: what – or even who – would you save as you fled to the wilderness away from the plague?  Lead character Kirstin grabs seemingly inconsequential items and stuffs them in to her backpack, and escapes. The objects play an important role in joining together the puzzle pieces of the story.

A wonderful 5 star read. I loved it.

 

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “STATION ELEVEN – by Emily St John Mandel

  1. I know I would want to keep my guitar and a bible. Not easy to live without God and music!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s a fun question. Of course, music is bigger than a single guitar, just as notions of God are bigger than a single Bible. I read the first section of this book but didn’t finish it. I think I was under a tsunami of post-end-of-the-world settings and has just had enough of them. I understand there is a movie being made. I should give this book another go sometime. Maybe I’ll take a copy of it along when I head for the forest. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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