“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.”
Written by Emily St. John Mandel and published in 2014, Station Eleven is set in the days of civilization’s collapse after a fictional swine flu pandemic known as the “Georgia Flu” has devastated the world, killing most of the population. The book 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.
Station Eleven is unlike anything I have ever read before. The early descriptions of a snowy night when the world is beginning to collapse after a mysterious flu has become a full-blown pandemic intrigued me instantly. But what follows isn’t just a post-apocalyptic adventure, it’s a real voyage with struggles that are far beyond survival.
Although Station Eleven is about a desolate landscape after a world-wide catastrophe as we follow a number of characters who roam the wastelands and risk everything for humanity, it is in no way like anything that you will have read before. What’s so unique about this book is the focus of arts and theatre, as we follow a performing troupe known as the Traveling Symphony. Technology may not have survived the plague, but Shakespeare certainly did.
Moving forward and backwards in time over a 20 year period between the main character’s early days as a film star and his current experiences, the story comes together through Jeevan’s interactions with the key characters at various points in his life. With striking prose and strongly developed characters, it is the darker moments of the story that keep you on edge, but the complexity of the way that the story intertwines together that will leave you feeling breathless.
It really is a powerful read and a wonderfully-written story that you will not forget quickly.