Station Eleven

Station Eleven

eBook - 2014
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An audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame, and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, from the author of three highly-acclaimed previous novels. 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 Travelling 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. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.
Publisher: [Place of publication not identified] : HarperCollins, 2014
ISBN: 9781443434881
1443434884
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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IPL_Mandy Jan 07, 2015

Post apocalyptic world with a twist. Nearly everyone dies, but that doesn't mean culture has to die with them. Kirsten was a child actor when the pandemic hit, and 20 years later she travels with a troupe performing Shakespeare. The story flips between the outbreak in Toronto and the survivors st... Read More »


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a
altybiz
Nov 08, 2017

I enjoy survival stories. This one was not put together the way I expected the story to read, and I think that gave it an additional twist. The author was inventive about many of her creations, like the Traveling Symphony that toured along Lake Michigan area after the pandemic knocked out 99.9% of the population. I'll have to check out the other books she has written. The one thing that surprised me about reviews is that this survival story got a lot of rave reviews that I didn't understand. I personally preferred Lucifer's Hammer, for example, which Station Eleven reminded me of a lot. I recommend Station Eleven highly however.

a
abmckinney7
Oct 26, 2017

This book is amazing. It really makes you think.

t
TechWriter1
Sep 17, 2017

It took a little time to get into this apocalypse tale. The interplay of characters through each stage of the pandemic-caused apocalypse eventually drew me in as I got to know them and the threads of their circumstances. The actor, Arthur Leander, was not the most interesting character, being outshone by others in orbit around him. I especially liked Kirsten for her humanity and killer survival instincts and Clark for his seemingly easy transition into survival. The narrative about Arthur acting while interacting with friends made my think. I can imagine an actor doing that but then thought "Don't we all do that in our lives?"

Fascinating, yet stressful, this novel captures your attention and doesn't let go! I have a friend who has read this in print and audio at least 20 times. An amazing debut novel. Hopeful, and realistic, for a dystopian futuristic novel.
Rose in PR

l
LandBeforeCats
Aug 11, 2017

*No Spoilers
This book kept me riveted and wondering what was coming next. It begins with a play that ties our characters together and quickly turns to the real world where a disease throws hospitals and entire cities into quarantine. We watch our characters move from this play to a very new world, many of them without their loved ones. The storytelling jumps between chatacters and between times, constantly leaving you dying to find out where the other chatacters have gone while you're desperate to get as much information from the character you're reading at the time. I often find jumps like this very jarring, but this book was written so "smartly" (if that's a way of saying it), that the jumps easily flow and take you with them.

OatmealThunder Jun 09, 2017

I heard this described as 'a sci-fi for people who don't like sci-fi.' Accurate. I would also say it's a hopeful tale for those who don't like sentiment. It's one of those books that's hard to describe when someone asks what you're reading. One of those books where you try and eventually say, "Just read it. It's good." So. Read it. It's good.

s
SCL_BookClubs
Jun 07, 2017

A mixed review from the bookclub. Some just couldn't get into it and felt that it was contrived and not as powerful as The Road. On the other end of the spectrum a reader thought it was powerful and made her grateful for the life she has. The most common statement was that they did not usually like science fiction but found it easy to get into.

s
Starpoem
Jun 03, 2017

* beautifully written
* chilling--the pandemic described in this book could happen RIGHT NOW
* but also uplifting--the plague survivors work to make the world a better place
* interesting ideas about the importance of creativity
* also, interesting ideas about the importance of community

taraverte Jun 01, 2017

Gentle post-apocalypse! A very good read.

i
Ichijo
May 17, 2017

There are many reactions one can have after reading a book. A sense of accomplishment, a greater understanding of the world, joy, incredulousness, sadness, even sheer and utter 'what the hell... what the bloody hell?!'. Station Eleven left me with an uncanny reaction. I raised my arms up high and shouted to whatever God was listening 'At last... my pain, suffering and torment are at an end! May this book return to whatever hell it was spawned from and trouble me no more'.

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Quotes

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t
Tjad2L
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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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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