Station Eleven

Station Eleven

A Novel

Book - 2014
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A novel about art, fame and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse. One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies on-stage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time, this 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 Travelling Symphony, caught in the cross-hairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.
Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins Publishers Limited c2014
Edition: 1st Canadian ed
Description: 333 p. ; 23 cm
ISBN: 9781443434867
Branch Call Number: Mand


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IndyPL_JillL Dec 05, 2018

Such a great read. A perfect recommendation for those who think they don't like scifi. The way the author weaves characters and plot line together is breathtaking. A fun read, but really astounding once your finish and see how you came to the end. I wish I could read it again for the first time.

JCLHebahA Nov 13, 2018

I'm late to the party on this one, but I'm glad I kept it on my towering to-read list. It's unlike a lot of post-apocalyptic stories, many of which focus on the utter dissolution of society as we know it. Station Eleven is about how people deal with soceity-altering events... and come back from them to form something new. There's a bit of menace in the form of a doomsday prophet plotline, but the story is less plot heavy than it is a well-developed study of people who are interconnected in ways they don't likely realize but readers have a chance to see. Give this one to a book group looking for something a little bit different.

Oct 31, 2018

I enjoyed this novel but it wasn't a favorite. I recommend it for folks who don't usually read science fiction - this seems like a book that would appeal more to those who are more accustomed to literary fiction as the writing is lovely but a bit slow-paced. It seems like a gentle introduction to science-fiction themes to those who don't think of themselves as enjoying the genre. I also had a hard time caring about some of the main characters. Of course characters don't have to be likable, but I do need to have some investment in caring or wanting to know about how their lives turn out. However, Arthur and Kristen's journeys didn't have a compelling arc or character development to me. I am a fan of post-apocalyptic novels and, as a former musician, loved the idea of a traveling symphony/theater. I had hoped the threads of the characters stories might tie together in a more interesting way at the end. I kept hoping for some reveal of how their lives would tie together at the end, or in a way I wasn't aware of from the beginning, but other than crossing each others' paths at various points, they didn't. Another annoyance was having some of the characters have names but others be referred to by their position in the orchestra which seemed implausible and objectifying to me. Otherwise a lovely, lyrical read.

Oct 01, 2018

I had seen this book in passing at the library and only vaguely remembered that it looked interesting. Late one night I checked out the ebook and ended up staying awake way too late reading it. Super engaging and poetic. I found myself thinking and talking about this book to anyone who would listen while I read it. It was just all together a refreshing and enjoyable experience to read.

Sep 23, 2018

The first thing I have to say is that this book was totally different from anything I've read! Science fiction/apocalyptic is way out of my comfort zone. Having said that ... the more I read, the more I CARED about the characters. I rejoiced over the ones who survived and mourned the ones who didn't. It was fascinating the way the stories of some of the survivors touched in the beginning and then circled around to touch again in the ending. I remember going with my parents (in the late 1950s) and looking at fallout shelters. It really makes one think.

Jul 22, 2018

An interesting take on a post-apocalyptic society. I liked that this story included perspectives from different age groups, genders and sexual orientation.

Jul 13, 2018

I enjoyed this look at a post-apocalyptic America following a deadly flu outbreak. Different perspectives and outcomes are woven together to make a story fabric with flaws, but with a clear sense of humanity and our foibles.

JCLSamS Jul 12, 2018

I read this book a couple of years ago and, while I found some aspects flawed, it has certainly stuck with me. Many of the characters are unique and well-developed, and the way the book follows society before, during, and after the apocalypse is intriguing. A few story lines are more interesting than others, so it can be a little irritating to switch back to people you're not interested in. I think it was worth my time, overall.

dhbhagat Jul 09, 2018

After a deadly flu wipes out most of humanity, this compelling tale takes you though the lives of some of the survivors, who now live in a world without electricity, the internet, and many of the things that we take for grated today. The book switches between their memories and present day, and we see how their stories intertwine, and explore what it means to survive, even if little else has.

TSCPL_Miranda Jul 08, 2018

What does it mean to be human? In Station Eleven, Emily St. John suggests that our relationships to one another and the beauty that we share through art and literature elevate our lives beyond simple survival.

Station Eleven begins with the death of one man, a star actor who suffers a heart attack onstage. An EMT trainee from the audience rushes to his aid, and a child actress witnesses the scene. At the same time, a deadly flu has already begun spreading, and in a matter of weeks nearly all of the people on earth have died.

Twenty years later, small groups of humans are making new lives without the technology of the past–no internet, electricity, or automobiles. Kirsten, The former child actress who witnessed Arthur’s death, roams as part of a Traveling Symphony who perform concerts and plays for small audiences. Their motto is a line from Star Trek: Voyager: “Because survival is insufficient.”

Mandel’s novel is about survivors, and their efforts to rebuild human society, but it’s also about the people who died, and the ways in which their actions and their art continue to ripple out to affect the living. In a narrative that moves between past and present, from one character’s point of view to another’s, readers gradually learn of the entangled connections that tie the characters to each other.

Station Eleven reminds us to appreciate the everyday miracles of our world—from lighted swimming pools and electric guitars to lightning fast communication with people around the world. There is danger and darkness in Mandel’s vision of the future, but there is more good than bad, more hope than sadness, and the people who remain hold tightly to the most beautiful parts of the world that’s been lost.

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Add a Quote

Jul 13, 2017

"[...] everyone knows when you've got a terrible marriage, it's like having bad breath, you get close enough to a person and it's obvious."

Apr 14, 2017

“She was thinking about the way she’d always taken for granted that the world had certain people in it, either central to her days or unseen and infrequently thought of. How without any one of these people the world is a subtly but unmistakably altered place, the dial turned just one or two degrees.”

Apr 14, 2017

“They spend all their lives waiting for their lives to begin.”

Apr 14, 2017

“I stood looking over my damaged home and tried to forget the sweetness of life on Earth.”

Apr 14, 2017

“The beauty of this world where almost everyone was gone. If hell is other people, what is a world with almost no people in it?”

Apr 14, 2017

“It was gorgeous and claustrophobic. I loved it and I always wanted to escape.”

Apr 14, 2017

“She had never entirely let go of the notion that if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.”

Apr 14, 2017

“No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars.”

Apr 14, 2017

“No one ever thinks they’re awful, even people who really actually are. It’s some sort of survival mechanism.”

Apr 14, 2017

“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”

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melwyk Sep 25, 2014

One snowy night in Toronto, an actor playing King Lear drops dead on stage. Only 24 hours later, most of the city is dead from a rapidly spreading virus. The few survivors find, as the electricity and water stop, as the internet drops out, that the virus has killed 99% of the world's population.

The question arises: how to live now? In Emily St John Mandel's unusual approach to a post-apocalyptic novel, the survivors of this modern plague retain their longing for community and civilization, trying their best to live in pockets of humanity across North America.

Early on, we meet the Travelling Symphony, a group of musicians and actors who travel caravan-style around the countryside, performing Shakespeare and symphonies to the scattered inhabitants of tiny settlements. As Kirsten, a main character, has tattooed on her arm: Survival is insufficient.

However, this symphony is also heavily armed, as chaos does exist in the new world. There are those in this rough life who rely on violence, including an eerie Prophet who controls a town the Travelling Symphony rolls into at the start of the story. This Prophet and his followers will pursue them for the rest of the book, adding an edge of suspense.

The story weaves back and forth from apocalyptic present to the past, revealing ways in which all the characters are connected. The constant return to 'before' results in a sense of nostalgia for what we haven't yet lost. Mandel points out precious elements of daily life that her characters have lost forever – the taste of an orange, the feel of air conditioning, ice cream, the ability to connect with one another by phone.

Throughout the book we also encounter Dr. Eleven, a scientist in a graphic novel that Kirsten has carried with her over the many years of post-apocalyptic life. The two volumes she owns of this tiny graphic novel sustain her. Dr. Eleven lives on a satellite, Station Eleven, after the earth is destroyed, and his story reflects her own. This imaginary graphic novel is fleshed out so wonderfully that I hope it is only a matter of time before Mandel releases a real-life edition.

This is a beautiful book; imaginative and full of complex characters, it is a post-apocalyptic novel that combines danger with beauty, sadness with hope. Mandel clearly believes that there is something good in humanity that will endure.

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