Station Eleven

Station Eleven

Book - 2014
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"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 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"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Toronto, Ontario, Canada : Harper Avenue, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, ©2014.
Edition: First Canadian edition.
ISBN: 9781443434867
1443434868
Characteristics: 333 pages ;,23 cm
Alternative Title: Station Eleven : a novel.

Opinion

From Library Staff

Who would've though the end of the world could be so lyrical? Mandel's soaring novel uses multiple perspectives to track a global pandemic and its aftermath. We meet a doctor in hiding, a cartoonist on vacation, and a Shakespeare troupe performing for communities of survivors, among others.

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mallc May 23, 2015

A spunky group of Shakespearian actors and classical musicians calling themselves the Symphony traverse a post-apocalyptic southern Ontario. A great Canadian take on the apocalypse genre.


From the critics


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c
ckapadia
Aug 09, 2020

This book was def overhyped by the time I got around to it. I'm not feeling the same connection to Covid, I don't worry about my society collapsing, also the limited time spent on people actually being sick make it feel like a it was immediately over. It was very interesting at first but as time went on I was getting too much unnecessary info and not enough explanation of others...it's like so many things were forgotten and never coming back. Maybe it's on purpose but it's no less frustrating.
Things I did like: people checking their memories against each other (light in the fridge, chocolate chip cookies)
Did not like: how things are connected but not connected enough, and the treatment of women, even though most of the violence happens outside the main story.

r
reedvm
Jul 28, 2020

Had read it along time ago. Traveling theater group, post apocalyptic

w
whatagiveaway
Jul 19, 2020

2019

jcljessicaj Jul 07, 2020

We listened to this on a recent road-trip. It was a good middle ground for my partner and I who have different taste in genres - I like romance and fantasy; he likes noir mystery. We really enjoyed it - especially currently living in a pandemic. We were captivated by the characters and various story lines. It was so fascinating to see them intersect and fun to guess at what was to come. We paused it multiple times while listening to discuss certain parts or give our theories for where a certain character's story would go. Listening to the book gave us the sense of living in the story. We loved it.

JCLEmmaF Jun 22, 2020

An incredibly surreal, gorgeous, and devastating experience to accidentally pick this up during a pandemic, read in quarantine. Unforgettable, really.

i
IV27HUjg
Jun 21, 2020

When I downloaded this nearly 18 months ago I did not realize a specific part was missing. After reading the book (my copy) I finally figured out what is missing. Now I'm on the long waitlist to reload. IMO there are several points where the author dropped the ball, however, most importantly it was her first book. Maybe the editor could have pointed out various 'issues'. That said, this has become a favorite read/listen and I feel there is much to be examined, pondered. I've returned to it frequently and found new aspects I can take further. Age and experience has a lot to do with acceptance, understanding. Don't dismiss it out of hand as it seems several reviews have done. I've heard Scots whisky is an acquired taste as opposed to bourbon, as is haggis or curry. This has become an acquired taste for me.

p
panchodog
Jun 18, 2020

I really liked "Station Eleven" even though I read it in the middle of the current COVID-19 pandemic and that did make parts of the story hit a little closer to the bone. The characters were likeable, which is really important to me as a reader. I don't have much patience with novels full of characters I don't care about at all. I noticed a few comments here about how the ending was great. For me it fell a little flat and that's why I am going with 4 stars instead of 5. I felt like I would have liked to read a little more about the conversations that happened between Clark and Kirsten, but they are mostly left implied.

k
kgw997
Jun 13, 2020

I did not finish this book because I could not believe that two years after a pandemic that leaves the population with no gasoline or electricity there would still be much of an entertainment industry. The lack of being able to move food around the country would require that those who did not starve to death return to a completely agrarian lifestyle which would leave very little time for an entertainment industry.

IndyPL_LoriO May 08, 2020

In Station Eleven, a deadly pandemic strikes, and civilization as we know it collapses. The timeline isn’t linear, which sometimes bothers me in a novel, but it’s done so well in this book. There’s plenty of jumping around to different characters and time periods (pre- and post- pandemic), but I was deeply invested in each storyline and it was clear how everything fit together, so it didn’t get confusing. There are so many strong themes that lend themselves to discussion. The ways we process trauma, what it means to survive, and the search for purpose in life are just a few that resonated with me. I will definitely re-read this one.

s
singidunum_25
Apr 27, 2020

It is a solid novel on topic which was tried before and will be explored in future as well. Honestly can’t see what was the hype all about, except being very much relevant right now.
If you want to know more about MicrobesInc, fund a book called “ Soap and Water and Common Sense: The Definitive Guide to Viruses, Bacteria, Parasites, and Disease“
by Bonnie Henry. You will have much more thrill from reading it!

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Quotes

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t
Tjad2LT
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."

k
KaseyNB
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.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

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

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

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

k
KaseyNB
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?”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

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

k
KaseyNB
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.”

k
KaseyNB
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.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

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

k
KaseyNB
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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Age Suitability

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frenchhornistba
Apr 13, 2020

frenchhornistba thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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FaithR
Feb 03, 2019

FaithR thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Summary

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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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