Thursday, 23 April 2015

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

Reviewer: JW Hicks, author of Rats

What we thought: That this is a futuristic novel that engenders hope in the survival of human spirit.

Station Eleven, written by Emily St John Mandel, was nominated for the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

This dystopian novel is set in the days of the World’s total collapse, brought about by the fast-spreading and unstoppable Georgia Flu, which kills 99.99 percent of the population.

Mandel tells the tale through an interconnected web of characters, amongst them, Arthur Leander, an actor past his prime playing King Lear, who dies of a heart attack as the flu erupts; Jeevan who gives Leander CPR in attempt to save his life; Kirsten a child actor in the same production, who acts in post-apocalypse Shakespearian performances and Miranda who creates the hand-drawn comic called Station Eleven which miraculously survives, becoming both a totem of the old world and a distorted mirror of the new.

These characters and a host of others weave a magical, totally absorbing story of individual triumph against seemingly unsurmountable odds – characters that are skeins of colour in the grey tapestry of post-apocalyptic life in the years that follow Armageddon.

The story looks at both the pre-flu time and Year Twenty, when the flu has abated and the survivors have settled into isolated communities – and the Travelling Symphony of musicians and actors who go from settlement to settlement performing Shakespeare plays.

Gradually the character-skeins grow in colour, illustrating their interconnectivity and underpinning this wonderful, soul-satisfying story – a story that connects the two time frames, the then and the now.

The skein which represents Arthur Leander, links characters and events in subtle, hidden ways, helping usher the story to a satisfying conclusion, a conclusion that offers the reader the prospect of a brighter and more hopeful future.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: John Wyndham’s oeuvre. John Christopher’s Death of Grass. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Avoid if you don’t like: Futuristic revelations.

Ideal accompaniments: Comfort food and a warm cat.

Genre: Dystopian. Sci-Fi.

Available on Amazon

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