Don’t prejudge the book when you first hear that Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is a novel about post-apocalyptic life on earth. Station Eleven is a phenomenal novel that you’ll want to savor word-by-word, page-by-page, but you won’t be able to because it’s just freaking amazing.
Set fifteen years after the world collapses from a vicious flu, novel follows a traveling orchestra and Shakespeare troupe. They travel the remnants of the Midwest to perform King Lear and A Midsummer’s Night Dream in abandoned Walmart parking lots. Some people in the troupe remember what life was like with electricity, airplanes and the internet while the younger ones only hold vague impressions of an ice-cold refrigerator with a light inside. Interspersed with memories of life “before,” Station Eleven is not about a post-apocalyptic world, but more of testimony our society’s desire to survive–Shakespeare and all.
When I first heard about Station Eleven at BEA’s Editors Buzz, I was intrigued but wasn’t sure if I should fight the crowds for a copy. Sarah McCoy, author of The Baker’s Daughter, saw my tweet about the novel and told me to throw some elbows to grab a copy of the galley. I’m glad I listened to her advice!
I’ve always been drawn to post-apocalyptic novels. It’s the science fiction lover in me, but the ones that stick with me after I turn the last page are the ones that dig into humanity’s deepest hopes and need for survival. Station Eleven at its core is about people. While the deathly Georgian flu is the catalyst for the story, St. John Mandel gives us the many ways society copes in the face of disaster. There are those that need a reason or an answer by reaching for a higher power. Sometimes the instinct is to save the past by teaching it to future generations or preserving the objects of our pass. Others draw upon classics like Shakespeare and Beethoven to feel complete. No matter how the characters deal with the new way of living, they must find a purpose to continue from before.
No matter what disasters we may face in our future, Station Eleven shows that community and hope are our best means of survival. Both physically and emotionally.
Also, any author who references Justin Cronin’s The Passage in her novel is cool in my book. I’m a huge fan of Justin Cronin.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is going on my list of top reads for 2015. The novel will be released September 9, but I highly recommend pre-ordering it so you can dig right in!