Thursday, November 19, 2015

64. Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel

2014 National Book Award FINALIST
audio read by Kirsten Potter
2014, Random House Audio & Knopf
11 unabridged cds
336 pgs.
Adult fantasy/dystopia
Finished 11/15/15
Goodreads rating:  4.0
My rating: 3
Setting:  Michigan area, contemporary times after a pandemic

First line/s:  "The king stood in a pool of light, unmoored. This was act 4 of King Lear, a winter night at the Elgin Theater in Toronto."

My comments:  This is a tough one for me to rate.  It's the kind of book I'd like to sit down with a book group and discuss.  Great writing, lots of jumping around (most of it's easy to follow, Mandel must have had to use a wall covered with diagrams to keep things straight...), but there's something a little bit missing.  It's not a book that will be easily forgotten, that's for certain, but it left me feeling I'd missed something (or some things)....

Here are some notes I found later on my phone:  I thought for awhile since finishing this book about what I really take away from it.  This is the kind of book I'd like to sit and talk about with friends.  I bet everyone would think the theme of the book was different than others thought.  There are so many levels, so many relationships, and so many things that I haven't even figured out connecting.  I picture the author having a huge black wall in front of her, creating characters and scenarios and overlapping an circling and layering plot and setting, particularly time.  Time.  Plague.  Why some people get sick and others didn't.  TWhy did they live in public buildings and not in houses they could've easily taken over - for comfort and safety alone.  What had happened to the entire company that they missed each other on the road?  Seems totally imporbable.  What was so important about the glass paperweight?  Didn't seem to fit completely into the story.  Would people really turn on each other the way they did?  And how exactly would an entire world ground to a halt the way it did?  The resources were still there and there had to be people still left that knew how to tap them...

Becky's Review from Becky's Book Reviews

Goodreads Summary:  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.

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