Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Set in the days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.
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.
What better time to read about a pandemic than during a pandemic. It’s still so surreal to think that we’re living through a historical moment and that our actions now will forever be remembered. On that note, let’s talk about Station Eleven.
Station Eleven was on my TBR for years before I finally picked it up. I had told myself this would be the year I read it and Covid-19 cemented that.
Station Eleven follows a group of people as they navigate the world post pandemic. 99% of the world died leaving precious few to survive and carve out a new existence. The characters are part of a traveling symphony that performs mainly Shakespeare plays. The story is told through the past and present as Mandel slowly unravels the end of the world and the connections between the characters.
As with most novels of this nature, Station Eleven doesn’t really have a plot. Readers follow along as they witness a snapshot in time for these characters. There’s a lot of missing information (for lack of a better word) or plotlines that are never resolved as the readers are only privy the information the characters have. This heightens the emotions the readers feel through the characters.
The pace is slow as Mandel unravels the connections between the characters. The slow pace fits the story and at no time did I feel bored or lose interest.
As the story switches between the past and the present, I found myself more interested in the present chapters. The past chapters focus on the interpersonal relationships between the characters and almost feel like a completely different novel from the present chapters. The juxtaposition between the timelines is stark.
Overall, Station Eleven is an intimate look at life after a pandemic and the seemingly small connections between people. As the saying goes “it’s a small world”.