Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

It’s no secret that doomsday, post-apocalyptic novels are in right now. What I enjoyed most about Station Eleven is that it didn’t focus so much on the chaos surrounding a devastating, world-wide plague, but gave the readers glimpses of the lives right before and fifteen years following the terrible flu. Instead of centering on how people fought and survived in the beginning of the epidemic, Station Eleven reflected how people were able to survive long-term in the wake of a fast-killing virus.

The novel begins on stage, where Arthur Leander has a heart attack while on stage performing in King Lear. As a EMT named Jeevan Chaudhary jumps on stage to help Arthur, child actress Kirsten Raymonde watches the horrible scene unfold from backstage. Arthur dies as the curtain drops. Later that night, in an unrelated incident, a deadly flu virus begins to spread worldwide. Jeevan and his brother shut themselves into their apartment in an attempt to wait out the epidemic.

Flash forward fifteen years and Kirsten Raymonde is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. This group of thespians travels between the settlements of the now-ravaged world, performing Shakespeare and concerts for the remaining communities in this new world. They encounter a corrupt prophet who attempts to keep them trapped in his twisted little town.

Station Eleven jumps back in time to tell the story of Arthur Leander’s life, who has a surprisingly strong connection to the survivors in the post-apocalyptic world. We learn more about Jeevan and his life before and after the flu. This novel is beautifully written, it captures your attention and reminds us to appreciate all the little beauties our imperfect world offers us. Definitely worth a read.

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