Review of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mendel (Rick in Texas)
Station Eleven is one of those books that is so well-conceived and executed that you are sad when there’s no more to read. After reading so many post-apocalyptic novels, many which barely bother to explain what caused society’s collapse, I expected another contrived and unimaginative version of The Hunger Games or Divergent. While I did enjoy both afore-mentioned series’ this standalone far surpasses either in both imagination and quality of prose.
The story crosses both sides of a global catastrophe from several characters’ point of view, all of whom, in one way or another, are satellites of a famous actor who, in the opening pages is performing King Lear at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto.
Emily St. John Mandel draws us into a horrifying and totally plausible world-wide catastrophe and then through ingenious flashbacks and historical reference sews together a tale that is as rich as any great myth.
Even if this type of story isn’t one’s ‘cup of tea,’ I would bet that even the most reluctant would find it riveting.
Station Eleven refers to a self-published comic, written and illustrated by one of the main characters, a frustrated artist who settles for corporate doldrum, yet still manages to complete a few issues of her creation. One of the more interesting facets of this plot device is the way in which the comic influences the characters. Mandel also hints of how all art is a reflection of the creator’s own life and times. That theme is further hammered home when members of the book’s post-apocalyptic theatre troupe, The Symphony, discuss Shakespeare’s own relationship with the plague.
Mandel leaves nothing undone in this novel that needed to be sewn up. Everything has its place, making me hungry for anything else she may have written.
Rick in Texas