Station Eleven: A Review

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.

(Photo and synopsis from Amazon.)

This was the first book I finished this year and I had started reading it over Christmas break. It was the Sci-fi/Fantasy book of the year on Amazon, so I downloaded it before the Christmas holiday, hoping to read it while on vacation. After I got into the meat of the story, it was not hard to see why it was the book of the year. It was a spectacular read and I loved it. The flipping back in forth to pre-pandemic and post-pandemic didn't even bother me and I easily followed both story lines. I was enraptured by both the past and present voices in Station Eleven and this book even inspired me to start keeping track of inspiring quotes in a journal. The first one I wrote down, back in January, was

"Hell is the absence of people you long for"

This book is full of inspiring nuggets like that and this is actually a very thought-provoking and inspiring novel wrapped up as dystopian fiction. I would definitely recommend this book! 

4 comments: said...

Very interesting review! However, this book is obviously not my type of reading. I love more happy and positive stories about success and love.

Brooke Higgins said...

This is one of my most favourite books. car parking luton airport

Maya Alexander said...

These are the stories near to the darker side of life. Really a good review.
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Jenna Catlin said...

You said "Hell is the absence of people you long for", whereas, I believe hell is a state of mind.
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