Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Review of 'Station Eleven' by Emily St John Mandel

Review of 'Station Eleven' by Emily St John Mandel

Every so often I find a book that I get obsessed with. And this is one of them. When I finished this, I spent a good couple of hours trawling the Internet to see if there's a sequel to the novel out yet. Spoiler alert: there isn't. I almost cried at the news.

Station Eleven is a novel that I really wasn't expecting much from. The blurb made it sound a little like The Walking Dead, which I love, but is honestly so repetitive. Thankfully, there was none of this in Station Eleven. 

The novel has no main protagonist, but rather centres around a group of characters that are all in some way connected with an actor named Arthur Leander. We meet his best friend, a couple of ex-wives, and a girl who worked on stage with him when she was a child. Arthur Leander passed away just before the virus hit, but many people weren't so lucky.

The virus was always going to be a fad, right? Like bird flu or swine flu, or any of the other flus that get eradicated almost instantly. After weeks of panic of course. This virus however, should have been taken seriously, but it spread too quickly for many people to even get a chance to hear about it, let alone become concerned.

Who knows why the virus killed off the people it did, but within a few months 99% of the population of America was gone. We travel through most of the novel with a travelling symphony, who believe that 'survival is insufficient' (in the words of Star Trek). They live 20 years after the virus hit, and have learnt that even with hardly any people left, some are willing to kill for territory, food or sport. 

Society has lost its way, naturally. There's no electricity, no processed food, no laws, and no governing power. There's a divide between people who can remember the 'before' and people who can't.

Alongside this aspect of the novel, we follow the life of Arthur Leander in a disjointed manner, through the accounts of various people involved in his life. This gives the reader a jarring comparison between the 'now' and the 'before', and shows us how trivial concerns were before the flu.

I found the book utterly terrifying, and intensely gripping at the same time. It was so real that I had nightmares about our world being hit with the same kind of virus, and I spent so long daydreaming about how I would handle life if I survived. 

This has honestly been my favourite book I've read in months, and I'd definitely recommend that you all give it a go!

Have you read it? What did you think?

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