Everyone has imagined what life would be like after an apocalypse. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel gives us her take on what a future after an apocalypse would look like and it is pretty chaotic. Keep reading for a short summary of the dystopian novel and why you should read this fan favorite!
Station Eleven Summary
During a performance of King Lear in Toronto, a famous actor has a heart attack on stage and dies. Jeeven gets warned about an epidemic that is spreading fast and is killing at a high rate. He heeds his friend’s advice and bunkers down at his brothers isolated home. Hours later, the world is sent into a panic as a horrible epidemic starts killing most of the population.
Fast forward twenty years after the outbreak and the novel follows a nomadic group of musicians and actors. They travel all over the country and perform plays all over the Great Lakes region. We come across Kirsten who was only eight when the outbreak first occurred and remembers little of her life before then.
The troupe returns to an old town to reunite with two of their fellow actors. But they can’t find their two members and here about a guy who has taken over the town and goes by the Prophet who kidnaps women and marries them. The group decides to leave town and find their friends before it is too late.
I enjoyed this novel a lot and the dark overtone of it. It makes you wonder how many people will become unhinged if society falls apart. Emily St. John Mandel paints a picture of a world were delusion and chaos seem to be norm and how innocent people become pawns in this lawless world. What happens after society breaks down and there is not law and order anymore? We get an answer to that in this novel.
Station Eleven reminds me a lot of Justin Cronin’s novel The Passage. In Cronin’s novel, there are hordes of zombies and a bit of the supernatural but the overall theme is the same. I recommend both books but The Passage is a big novel whereas this novel is a good read for about a week. This is more of a comfort read and brings a different take to the dystopian genre.
This novel went on to win the Arthur C. Clark Award in 2015 and beat out The Girl with all the Gifts, a novel I enjoyed a lot. The committee chose this as the winner because of its focus on the survival of the human culture instead of the usual focus of humanity. The award is well deserved but that reason is not sufficient for me. That is why I am not too big on awards and who decides what is a good book.
If you like dystopian novels but want a fresh take on it, then this should be your next read. It is great writing and the plot feels new and the characters stand out. Don’t think this is just another end of the world type novel or you will be missing out on an amazing book as a result!