Station Eleven

Station Eleven

by Emily St. John Mandel
4.1 108

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Overview

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding 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 Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.
 
Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.
 
Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, 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.


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385353311
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/09/2014
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 7,091
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Emily St. John Mandel was born in British Columbia, Canada. She is the author of three previous novels—Last Night in Montreal, The Singer’s Gun, and The Lola Quartet—all of which were Indie Next picks. She is a staff writer for The Millions, and her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including The Best American Mystery Stories 2013 and Venice Noir. She lives in New York City with her husband.

www.emilymandel.com


From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Station Eleven: A novel 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 108 reviews.
BrandieC More than 1 year ago
There has been a lot of "buzz" surrounding Emily St. John Mandel's contribution to the post-apocalyptic genre, Station Eleven, which was selected as one of Amazon's best books of the month for September. While I'm not sure that all the hype is quite justified, I did enjoy Mandel's writing and her fresh approach. Rather than placing her primary focus on the horrors and challenges of survival in a world decimated by the "Georgia flu," Mandel clearly believes the motto she gives her Traveling Symphony: "Survival is insufficient." The main characters in Station Eleven are not ex-military hardasses, as is so often the case in this genre; they are actors, musicians, and artists who believe that the fine arts are essential to our human identity, a sentiment with which I heartily agree. Mandel conveys this feeling not only through the actions and dialogue of her characters, but also by following key relics of the pre-apocalypse world (a paperweight, a comic book) as they pass through various hands, connecting lives in sometimes unexpected ways. We have here, not six degrees of Kevin Bacon, but six degrees of "Station Eleven," the comic book from which the novel draws its title. Strangely enough, Station Eleven's strength is also its main weakness. Mandel gives short shrift to her characters' survival narratives. Survival may be insufficient, but it is nevertheless essential. Kirsten Raymonde, the child actor who subsequently joins the Traveling Symphony in its Shakespeare productions, doesn't remember her first year as a survivor, presumably because it was too traumatic. Although I didn't need the gory details, I did feel as though her amnesia left a gaping hole as I reached the end of the book. This quibble aside, Station Eleven is a moving and surprisingly hopeful addition to the literature of the post-apocalypse. I received a free copy of Station Eleven through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you love literary fiction you'll love this. If you are not a fan of science fiction or dystopian fiction...well, read this anyway. It's all about character, time, and place. You'll love it and expand your horizons. Trust me!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a sucker for the recent flood of apocalyptic tales, and this was one of the best stories I've read in a long time. It was less about the collapse of civilization and more about the characters experiences, but the story provided enough details of the events to be satisfying. I did not want the story to end, and yet I could not put the book down. I would recommend this to anyone who likes to read!
LongTimeFanNY More than 1 year ago
A good read. More a series of interwoven stories than a traditional novel. The stories/storylines influence each other, some directly, others indirectly. Past and present are presented in no particular order. This flipping back and forth between the times before and after the apocalyptic event emphasizes the order within chaos concept that is center to the overall story and drives home the fragile, transitory nature of life and all we take for granted.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful! Emily is such a gifted writer. Engaging and beautifully written, STATION ELEVEN has something for everyone-a little sci-fi, dystopia, heartache and survival. I will recommend this book to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though i am only 13 years of age (About to be 14), i would highly reccomend this book. This book is appropriate for ages 15 and up. Though there are some obscenities and graphic violence, this book will open your eyes to a whole new world of literacy. The author is honetly a genius, this peice of writing is absolutely preciously valuable.
Artistwriter More than 1 year ago
Not entirely what I expected, the novel has many more layers and depth to it. This is a story for those who appreciate character development as opposed to violence and clichés.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderfully composed sci-fi story about how civilization in general and both decent and not so decent individuals fare when civilization as we know it collapses suddenly due to a worldwide calamity. Endlessly interesting. Satisfying how all the main characters eventually interact with each other either directly or indirectly. Brilliantly composed without a wasted word. Lots of action too, but the human relationships , and how people are shaped and changed by adversity very much intrigued me. People reacting under pressure. Moments of tragedy and humor with lots of action as civilization suddenly collapses. A must read for sci-fi fans!
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
There is an expectation among those who research such things, that the end of world, as it presently stands, will not occur due to a war fought over oil, religion or politics. Its final gasp will not be due to nuclear fallout or global warming.  The end will come because of a natural occurring virus against which 99.99% of humanity has no resistance. That is the premise upon which Ms. Mandel launches what has all the markings of a remarkable trilogy.  How humanity was whittled down to potentially extinction levels is of less importance in this story than how those who lived respond to being survivors of a sparsely populated world. The book opens with a production of Shakespeare’s King Lear at Toronto’s Elgin Theater. The death of the lead actor, Jeeven Chaudhary, star of stage and screen, from a heart attack during Act IV, is a death unrelated to the pandemic but it does set the tone for what will happen after the devastation the flu strain will bring is complete.  This flu is so contagious, incubates so quickly and is so deadly that humanity has no chance of responding; Shakespeare is timeless & humanity has been responding to his works for centuries. One of the book’s over-arching themes highlights the difference from the “temporary” from the “transcendent.” Kristen Raymonde is an 8-year-old bit player on stage when “King Lear” has his heart attack. In “Year 15,” as time is now measured, she is a member of a traveling Symphony and Shakespeare company. “Cities” are made up of groups of more than 100 and are typically centered around buildings constructed to serve people – former gas stations, fast food restaurants and big box stores. Houses, for reason’s unclear are shunned and allowed to dilapidate after being repeatedly searched. Everyone who survived Year One is leery, paranoid and guarded. As the troupe is on constant tour, they see the stagnation of humanity and are on constant alert for fear of a reoccurrence of “what happened.” In response to what she sees Kristen ponders if, perhaps, “humanity should pass from existence.” At each stop, the Company performs - music one night, Shakespeare the next. The story is told in flashbacks each “visit to before” sheds light on how those still living came to react as they do, how seeming disparate events and elements were not as random as they first seem, everything and everyone is connected to the present. Life is reduced to its basics – food, water, shelter, community. One goes to bed at dark and rises with the sun. Questions so important when “everything worked” are revealed to be empty, replaced by deeper ponderings of faith, power, beauty and trust. The survivors are no longer connected to possessions, having learned to treasure what is of real value. Religion is still alive in this new age, as is the genuine faith sometimes found in its practitioners. What is more often the case, however, in this tale of warning, is one’s “religion” gives credence to delusion. Prophets abound, their followers seeming to find safety in following the words of one who “hears the voice of god” and will obey what this prophet says, even if it means violating every moral and value they possess. The book ends with many questions answered and new paths discovered.  The “end” did not feel like a conclusion, Kristen’s angst was confronted with hope.  I would like for this journey to continue, but if Ms. Mandel brought her readers to the intended place of parting, it is a good spot to rest.  
Drewano More than 1 year ago
I’m a huge fan of the post-apocalyptic genre and I’ve read tons of books but none like “Station Eleven” and I guess that’s because I would say that it doesn’t fall into this genre.  Oh don’t get me wrong it take place just before and after the Georgia Flu has killed 99% of the world’s population, but it’s not about that at all.  Some books take you thought the collapse of civilization some only show the aftermath but this book takes you right through it but it completely glosses over it.  One character rides it out his brother’s apartment one in an airport but the author keeps us confined in these areas.  When people do leave we only hear what they say when they come back and don’t get to see what goes on for ourselves.  Even the news reports the reader hears are broad generalizations.  This book is all about the characters, their interactions with each other, how their lives intertwine and their actions and regrets in this fleeting world.   It’s was written and thought provoking and sometimes frustrating (the biggest example is the lack of discussion of the evolution of The Prophet being huge missed opportunity) but overall a great example of modern literary fiction.
karatepen More than 1 year ago
This is brilliantly constructed novel with great complexity of characters and time lines. St. John Mandel intertwines her characters and time with ease flow and great love for the integrity and ambition of the theme she tackles. I was intrigued by the characters plot and had trouble getting emotionally involved.This is a novel of desperation,trust and hope in relationships that help all of us survive in different levels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am only 200 pages into this book but I can already tell I'm going to be sad when it ends. The author has masterfully created a post civilization world that forces the reader to examine their current life and wonder what it would be like to live without the luxuries we have come to expect. This book isn't gross or creepy just a wonderfully organized plot that keeps you hooked. I can't wait to see where it goes but I also never want it to end. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A key quote from Star Trek in this beautifully written and more upbeat post-apocalyptic novel. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My previous review indicating this was drivel was premature. After the first 50 pages the sgiry picks up and the writing also improves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is a fine line between hoe and despair in post apocalyptic noves and she threads that path perfectly. So much that it makes you think...if the worlrd were to end next week : would you be happy witj your life?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book! So fantastic and beautifully written!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I HAD TO READ IT FOR CLUB. WHAT A STRUGGLE.
Haziegaze More than 1 year ago
I was really looking forward to reading this. I have heard and read rave reviews about how fantastic it is so was chuffed to bits when I was provided with a copy from Netgalley via the publisher, Picador, and I settled down to read. What can I say? Is there something wrong with me? I just didn't get it. I don’t know why but it just didn't grab me at all and, I'm sorry to say, I found it boring so much so that I skim read parts just to get it over with a bit quicker. I recognise when I am not enjoying a book because I find myself subconsciously finding other things to do rather than read and I did this quite a lot whilst trudging through this book. The characters, although well written were just not that interesting and I found myself not caring what happened or happens to them. I found the whole thing a mix of different stories which was confusing and just didn't seem cohesive.  Maybe it was partly because it was told from different points of view with no central character. Maybe it was the Shakespeare - I'm not a huge fan.  Maybe it was a bit too “deep” for me … I'm a simple person who reads purely for enjoyment and I don’t want to have to think too hard to find complex meaning … my job is taxing enough on my brain, I don’t want it to be overworked! This book received so much hype that I think it raised my expectations and I was just left feeling flat and unconvinced and actually rather sad. I even left it a few days before writing this review because sometimes if I give it a few days to reflect on what I've read, it sometimes helps but unfortunately not in this case - it just didn't do it for me at all. I realise that I am in a minority here and there are loads of people who love this book so I suggest you give it a go and make your own mind up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished this. It was good, but confusing at times. Don't really like the back and forth. Really makes you think about the little everyday items you would lose and what could become important. Is remembering important? This could apply today. I would probably read this author again.
juicedbooks 9 days ago
May 05, 2017 STATION ELEVEN BY EMILY ST. JOHN MANDE Personally, I love the idea of art over everything, and I love the idea that art survives the end of the world. Imagine that the world is wiped out by a flu epidemic and there are so few survivors that electricity and power are gone. Now you're in the world of Station Eleven. The book follows an orchestra and group of actors who call themselves the Traveling Symphony as they venture through towns in the Great Lakes region of American twenty years after the epidemic. They stay in each town only for a few nights, putting on classical performances before they turn back to the dangerous roads between human settlements that are full of feral people, bandits, and lawlessness. The plot alternates between a few characters before and after the epidemic, which allows the horror of any one time and place to not seem so bad. With so many disparate characters and plot-lines, it seems like a miracle that they all come together in the end, but Mandel pulls it off. This is one of the best apocalypse books I've read in a long time because it doesn't focus on world ending, but rather our shared humanity. Art is at the center of that, and I'd expect no less.
Anonymous 14 days ago
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Anonymous 6 months ago
A wonderful read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so peculiar, but I was spell bound by the different developments of the storyline and characters and then I didn't want it to end.
AymTru More than 1 year ago
A post-apocalypse with a heart? That's how I would describe this narrative as the story sweetly navigates a heartrending situation with a mixture of reserve and intrigue. So foreign is the novel (locally) yet, such a frequent wake-up call