Station Eleven Paperback – April 11 2017
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- Item Weight : 272 g
- Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1443434876
- ISBN-13 : 978-1443434874
- Product Dimensions : 13.49 x 2.01 x 20.32 cm
- Publisher : Harper Perennial (April 11 2017)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Station Eleven is so compelling, so fearlessly imagined, that I wouldn’t have put it down for anything. (Ann Patchett)
A novel that carries a magnificent depth. . . . It’s a sweeping look at where we are, how we got here and where we might go. While her previous novels are cracking good reads, this is her best yet. (The Globe and Mail)
Gracefully written and suspenseful. . . . Its evocation of the collapse of our civilization is powerful. (National Post)
It’s hard to imagine a novel more perfectly suited, in both form and content, to this literary moment. (The New Yorker)
From the Back Cover
Winner of the toronto book award • Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award • Finalist for a National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the Sunburst Award • Longlisted for the Baileys women’s Prize for fiction, the international dublin • Literary award, and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction • A New York Times bestseller • A Globe and Mail bestseller • An entertainment weekly best book of the year • An audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame, and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse
One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous Hollywood actor, 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 Arthur’s early days as a film star to twenty years in the future, when a theatre troupe known as the Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: Arthur, the man who tried to save him, Arthur’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Travelling 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.
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Top reviews from Canada
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The main characters of the story are connected through their relationships to a famous Hollywood actor, originally from Western Canada, who had attended school in Toronto. The premise is that most of the world's population is wiped out within the matter of a few days following the spread of a flu virus. The survivors of this story continue their lives in small settlements in the general region Southwest of Toronto and probably East of Chicago. Their choices seem to be defined by many of the same forces that might have defined the choices for people who lived several thousand years earlier when human population was small and people lived in small settlements wherever they could find sustenance and safety. The book concludes at about 20 years after the catastrophe which is not enough time for the survivors to forget life before the catastrophe, nor for it to be clear if they might be able to preserve enough of the knowledge and skills from before the catastrophe. It is also not clear if the flu spared some societies elsewhere in the world.
The end of the book doesn't end the story; a sequel could follow naturally.
This is an ensemble piece with several compelling storylines, wonderfully visual and heartbreakingly emotional, this is one of my favourite books.
If you enjoyed this try The Dog Stars by Peter Heller.
Despite being part of the post apocalypse genre it feels fresh. The characters and story line are realistic and haunting, but not brutal. It strikes a unique and enjoyable tone.
Top reviews from other countries
Station Eleven isn't your usual apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic novel: the focus isn't the pandemic itself. The story isn't a linear one and alternates, without any obvious logic at first, between moments before the pandemic, during the pandemic or after it. The reader realises quite quickly that the focus actually is the characters and the consequences of the pandemic on them. There's no epic tale of survival, but tales of self-discovery and how to find your place in this world.
I have really loved the style: it's beautiful written, sometimes very striking, and Emily St John Mandel varies her narrative choices. Some readers may dislike the absence of linearity: clearly, it's not Flood by Baxter, and it can be frustrating to lose the storyline of one character without knowing if St John Mandel will go back to him or her. But this absence of linearity is actually what makes the beauty of the story: the characters' fate and their choices are examined under an unexpected angle. In a linear story, you wouldn't have felt a single shred of pity for some of them, but with this storytelling choice, they suddenly appear in a completely different light.
The story doesn't really bring anything new to the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic genre, but it is gripping and sometimes very touching.
It is a remarkably beautiful and emotional novel that left me speechless for a few minutes after having finished it.
We have the years after the singular event that causes the post-apocalyptic dystopia that we read of, but we also have before then and not only the events that led up to the massive flu pandemic, Georgia Flu here, but people who are in one way or another circling the actor, Arthur Leander. As we read this we see how important this character is, although he spectacularly dies on stage near the beginning of this, whilst playing King Lear.
Of course, it is unlikely that a pandemic would kill so many people throughout the world in so quick a period, and there is missing some of the really hard-hitting pieces about life immediately after such an event, although rape and murder do come up in the story. This tale concentrates on other things, which makes it so interesting and giving us food for thought that is usually missed.
We meet throughout this book then characters who are related to Leander, through marriage, and even his child, as well as friends of his, and those who for one reason or another have come into contact with him. This may not seem that important at the beginning of this, but it is as you read further into the tale.
By flicking between the past and the present so Emily St John Mandel keeps us intently reading, as we see how all the different pieces come together. We read of Kirsten here then who is travelling with the Symphony, a company that puts on musical events and Shakespearean plays, and as we see, when they eventually reach a town on their usual circuit to pick up a couple of their members, so things have changed, with the so-called Prophet in charge, and his cult. Kirsten was a child actor, who was there when Leander died, and also who was given a couple of comics by him, which were created by his first wife. This is only one link we see between the past and present.
This makes us think of the importance of art and culture on our lives, as well as the loss of those we know, and nostalgia for a past that no longer exists. Therefore memory plays a part here, and how civilisation plays an important part of our lives. By the latter years mentioned here, so life has sort of fallen into a routine, where some control and a touch of normality has started to seep into the everyday. This reminds us that although after some cataclysmic event life may change, eventually it will all fall back into a certain normality, and we can see this throughout history, with the plague, and other epidemics. Whilst people from before such an event are alive, so things can be passed onto newer generations, to keep certain practices and thoughts and ideals alive. Along with this we are also reminded that it is not in living that people gain immortality, but in what we do, and what we are remembered for – although nowadays for some people they think that just posting endless selfies is a fulfilling life. Therefore if you are looking for a basic post-apocalyptic novel you will not find it here. However, if you are looking for something a bit more thoughtful and intelligent, as well as literary, then here you have something that you should enjoy.
This novel is 333 pages long, split into 53 chapters. Short chapter usually help a book to read quickly by giving it pace so that's a good start.
The story starts with a death on stage then quickly becomes more menacing as a killer flu virus spreads rapidly around the world. Lots of people with interconnecting stories are introduced and there plenty of ominous warnings about the imminent end of the world as we know it. Having established the scenario the pace slows a bit as the characters come in. It picks up again once the links start to be established and I was hooked.
It's a complex story with plenty of drama. The narrative focuses on a few people who are still alive twenty years on but there are plenty of references back in time to explain what has happened since the virus first struck.
There are loads of unanswered questions which gives the story a genuine feeling.
Characters are allowed to develop but it is clear from the beginning that characterisation comes a second place to the descriptions of the post apocalyptic world in which they live.
After the initial panic, the book becomes very reflective and this is when it is at its best. Looking back at the futility of civilisation and the strength of humanity to survive.
Towards the end I found the plot stretched the boundaries, that it had successfully established, too far and I wasn't convinced that the ending matched the rest of the novel. This was always going to be a tough story to conclude and the author did a good job.