So here we go. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.
This has been literally everywhere for forever. And never in that time did I feel any inclination to pick it up whatsoever. This was definitely a ‘just reading it for the challenge completion’-kinda book to me when I picked it up. But this novel completely surprised me.
Generic plot synopsis: There’s a gigantic flu outbreak that kills most of humanity. Civilisation collapses. Those left have to go through the houses of the dead to get food and clothes and, when push comes to shove, kill other survivors to protect themselves.
This book jumps a lot between the time directly leading up to and twenty years after the collapse, and all the different viewpoints.
Most of the time is spend on exploring Arthur Leander, a middle-aged actor in his last production of King Lear pre-apocalypse, and the Travelling Company, a group of actors and musicians performing all over what is left of the US.
Emily St. John Mandel connects all her characters lives, before and after the outbreak. And although not all of these connections are necessary for the story, they certainly are extremely satisfying, because let’s be real, who doesn’t love themself a book of interconnected characters?
I really don’t like reading post-apocalyptic novels because they just make me feel massively uncomfortable.
As did this one, but actually in a very good, thinky way. I definitely walked around affected by it for a few days, carrying a weird awareness of stuff with me.
Also, when reading it, putting aside Station Eleven became a challenge. It’s constructed in a way that keeps your attention high for the complete length of the book without ever becoming an easy pageturner completely lacking the substance.
So yes, I was very surprised and moderately impressed by it. Definitely not up there with my favourite books of the year, because post-apocalyptic science-fiction just really isn’t for me, but I genuinely liked it and thought about it for a while.
Not that bad. Not that bad at all.