Monday, April 6, 2015

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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 Traveling Symphony, 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.

My take: 5 looks
Loved the story-telling in this one! I am no fan of post-apocalyptic and dystopia stories, but the way St. John Mandel writes is wonderful. The storytelling here is a breathtaking cacophony of sounds, merging together to make a beautiful musical piece. The imagining of the story was vast, and complete, and I welcomed each milestone achieved in the plot.

While on the surface, this is a story about survival, there is also a strong element of before-and-after. A sense that all we have is so incredibly fragile and temporal; that our loves and desires are grossly misplaced and pedestrian. Also moving around in this story is the notion that we all touch one another in very real and substantive ways, whether we are thousands of miles apart, or hundreds of years. Everything we decide, do, say, or discard has an impact on others that we will never know. And finally, the book begins with a death, but it soon becomes clear that, even in death, we will always live on.

Highly recommended.

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