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.
Twenty 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
Station Eleven follows the events before and after an epidemic flu kills 99% of the world. It follows a few people that are all loosely tied together. Two of the people that it follows are an actor and a little girl (primarily an adult through most of the book)
that acted with him on his final performance.
This book takes us all over and spans over 20 years. It can jump back and forth and between characters that things can get a little confusing. We also never really get to know any of the characters too well which makes it difficult to care what happens to any of them.
I did enjoy the random connectedness between the characters that show whether in a small or largely populated world the six degrees of separation rule can still apply.
I listened to the audiobooks version of this and the narrator did a good job, nothing fantastic, but well read.
Overall I give this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars. The extra .5 is a bonus for the book taking place in my home state of Michigan and the general Great Lakes area. If you are a fan of post apocalyptic books this may not be the book for you as that is not really the main focus of the book and only about half of the book takes place in the “post” world