17 April 2016

Station Eleven


I've been a fan of postapocalyptic fiction ever since first encountering A Canticle for Leibowitz over 50 years ago.  Station Eleven fits nicely into that genre, although the author apparently dislikes the term "science fiction," since she relies so little on science and wants to focus on developing the characters and their interlaced stories.

The novel follows a group of actors and musicians who have formed a "traveling symphony" around the Great Lakes region "because survival is insufficient."  The underlying premise of a pandemic plague was in my view difficult to accept because of the extent of the depopulation (99.9%) and thre rapidity with which such occurs (several months), but I'm willing to grant the author that concession in order to let her set her world in motion, because she has a pleasant way with words - as, for example, when the protagonist is having a mild disagreement with her significant other: "The... argument had lost all of its sting over the years and had become something like a familiar room where they met."

This was an easy read and a pleasant one, postapocalyptic in the sense that the order of the world has been disturbed, but the novelist after describing the chaos and lawlessness and incorporating it into the story, doesn't dwell on the dystopian features (unlike for example Cormac McCarthy's The Road).

The novel won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Toronto Book Award in 2015 and was nominated for the National Book Award.  Readers of this blog are invited to offer mini-reviews in the Comments.

7 comments:

  1. I enjoyed it, too. My daughter recommended it.

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  2. I just finished reading this book yesterday. I was hooked from the first line, "The King stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored." Since the eponymous comic, 'Station Eleven', played such a prominent role in the psychological development of two key characters, I wish it had been incorporated into the novel. I wanted to see that world that Miranda created.

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    1. I quite agree with you on that, because a lot of words were expended in the novel describing individual panels of the comic. Perhaps some future edition of the book will sprinkle some illustrations throughout the story.

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  3. I just LOVED this book! My full review (without spoilers) is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1127539962

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  4. Placed a "hold." Thank you all!

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  5. I loved this book too, and would recommend The Dog Stars by Peter Heller as a similar read, that is, a post-apocalyptic setting for a humane and ultimately hopeful read.

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  6. There was so much in this novel. I read it on a recommendation. But 'post apocalyptic' so often means a very macho dog-eat-dog and Walking Dead kind of scenario, I wasn't very hopeful for something new. But the quiet force of the narrative long after the disaster and the flashbacks to the times before, during and immediatly after it just took my breath away. This is good story. This is very, very good. It is not a silly zombie story with almost no background where the incentive to keep reading is how people change from their pre-apocalypse charactors of 'Person in Authority' or 'Insignificant Nobody' to their opposites.
    There is no real protagonist you can identiy with. This is a story of how real people survived (or didn't) in a very realistic disaster. It is a year since I read this and the images that it left are still with me.

    You know... I think I will read it again now.

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