After a month-plus-long reading slump, I was finally able to get through a book. And it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. It is one of those rare books that is both incredibly well-written and extremely thought-provoking. In Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel was able to capture the what it means to be human in a world that has basically ended.
The novel begins with a single death: actor Arthur Leander collapses on stage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, a catastrophic flu virus reaches New York. Within weeks, 99% of the world’s population is gone. Civilization as we know it collapses and the world is strangely quiet. The story jumps back and forth in time, spanning from Leander’s early years to post-pandemic Year Twenty. The book centers on survivors: a curator, an actress, an artist, and a self-proclaimed prophet – strangers connected by one man and a comic book. Station Eleven is a post-apocalyptic novel with one simple (StarTrek-inspired) lesson:
survival is insufficient
I honestly can’t decide if I am more taken by the story or Mandel’s beautiful writing. I constantly found myself rereading sentences simply because I liked them so much (the sign of a true English nerd). The experience of reading it was similar to reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, though they are very different books. I just really fell in love with the words. I will definitely be looking into Mandel’s other books (Station Eleven is her fourth).
I think Station Eleven is one of those books I’ll be returning to every so often. Definitely a classic in my opinion!
Let me know what you thought of Station Eleven in the comments below. And don’t forget to check out my reading challenge for this year – I’d love to hear what books you’ve read so far!