Review - Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

Station Eleven is released on the 10th September 2014
Thank you to Sam Eades at Pan MacMillan for providing me with a copy

The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the earth like a neutron bomb.
News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%.

Civilization has crumbled.

A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe.

But now a new danger looms, and he threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild. 

Station Eleven is sitting beside me as I type this, I have just literally finished it and I am blown away, not only does it look beautiful, it is an amazing tale, yes it is about a massive percentage of the population dropping dead but this story, I suppose more specifically Emily waves a magical tale that conjours up beautiful imagery of the old world and the new plus the eponymous Station Eleven of the title.

The book flits backwards and forwards in time which works very well, there a lot of characters mentioned but I would say there is about five main POV characters.

They include Arthur Leander a faded Hollywood star acting out his final days on stage in Toronto, Jeevan Chaudhary training to be a paramedic but used to be a member of the paparazzi, Kirsten Raymonde the little girl who acted alongside Arthur, Miranda who is Arthur's ex-wife and Clark an old friend of Arthur's.

Arthur is the constant in all of these stories, every story interlinks, as the stories go back and forward you pick up on little things that have been mentioned earlier or later but it all seems to lead back to him, it is seamless they way that Emily links it all up.

Station Eleven starts with the very last performance of Arthur, as he performs in King Lear he collapses in front of an audience that includes Jeevan who rushes to his help, little do they know that the Georgia Flu is already spreading like wildfire throughout the city, throughout the country and throughout the entire world.

The story jumps forward twenty years and we meet the Travelling Symphony a band of actors and musicians who perform for the people who have been spared from the deadly flu.

The arrive in a town to pick up some of their members who they left there two years before, due to pregnancy but when they return to find them, they find them gone and discover that a sinister community has arisen in this town, with a man calling himself the Prophet, a man who believes the flu was a cleansing of the earth.

The story continues going back and forth, we find out more about each of the main characters, we find out that there are survivors out there, notably at an airport in Severn City, Clark landed there in a plane twenty years ago, plane after plane landed and the passengers have made the airport concourses their home.

Clark as the years progress creates a collection of objects that are now obsolete, his Museum of Civilisation, it has precarious high heels, handheld computers all the things that are just useless now, It did get me thinking if I was in that position what would I put in the museum, well presuming I was arriving their by plane like Clark I would probably leave behind either my passport, I wouldn't be able to use it again or I would leave the newspaper that I always buy when I travel, it would be a permanent reminder of that day, I don't think I could give up my phone even though I know it wouldn't work after a while mainly because I have pictures that mean a great deal to me on it, plus my kindle for similar reasons.

I don't know if I have done this book justice in this review, it reads amazingly well, as I mentioned above the interweaving of the stories is very seamless, you don't find yourself questioning the story, the whole world building is incredibly well done, when Miranda sits on a beach looking out at the "ghost fleet" it just paints such a beautiful picture.

Miranda is also responsible for Station Eleven, it is a comic book she has created (you can see more info about it here on the book designers page and this comic appears at different points over the time lines.

Station Eleven I think is going to be a future classic, it is an amazing story and I hope it goes on to be a huge success.

Station Eleven is awarded 5 out of 5

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