Emily St. John Mandel
"The King stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored."
An audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame, and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, from the author of three highly acclaimed previous novels.
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.
Love, love, loved this... and you will too (I hope). This is yet another story that happens to be post-apocalyptic, but to my surprise also features pre-apocalyptic and present day (we get to see it all go down). The main focus isn't on the tragic events but more importantly, on the characters brought to the stage. Yes, stage! Much of the plot centers around acting and more importantly, Shakespeare! This gives a little more of a whimsical side to the doom and gloom of an apocalyptic world. We travel back and forth in time, a technique that I love (but only if done right).
One of the characters we meet, Arthur, is an actor with three ex-wives. Two of the exes are interwoven into the story as well as his best friend Clark. We also get introduced to Kirsten (I think it's Kirsten and not Kristen but please, let me know if I got that wrong), whom was but a small child when the "flu" came and wiped out 99% of the population, she knew Arthur through the "King Lear" play they both acted in. As we follow her into the future, we see her grown-up and grouped up with a traveling symphony that puts on Shakespeare and plays classical music to the towns they pass. The group is tight knit and quirky. At first, I didn't think I'd like reading the chapters that involved them because I'm not that into "Shakespeare", "acting" and "symphonies", but the story flows so well, those parts became some of my favorite ones.
Mandel has given us a fully imagined world that you can easily picture yourself in. She also includes SO many references to our present day society but she uses them in the "past" sense because the world is left without novelty items, such as comic books. Speaking of comic books, I fell in love with the character, Miranda, who ends up writing this very intricate sci-fi comic that survives the apocalypse and keeps popping up among the future. I loved everything about those bits and I really hope the publisher or Author comes out with a "comic" side project to bring these to life? I'm sure anyone who falls in love with this book would agree. We want a Station Eleven comic, pretty please?!
What else can I say that'll convince you to read this one? This story isn't like any other doomsday novel you've read before. The writing is beautiful. The characters are brilliant. The settings are done so real you feel yourself pulled into the story. You start wanting a "reset" to the life we currently live in, you can imagine yourself without all those distracting "extras". I think that might be enough reasons... don't you? Run out and get this one when it comes out, it's not to be missed.
Support Shelf Notes! Purchase your copy of this book here:
On Left: Hardcover - On Right: E-Book: