Station Eleven

Station Eleven

A Novel

Audiobook CD - 2014
Average Rating:
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One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production. Jeevan Chaudhary, 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 as life disintegrates outside.
Publisher: [New York] : Random House Audio, 2014
Edition: Unabridged
Copyright Date: c2014
ISBN: 9780553398076
0553398075
Branch Call Number: TALK MANDEL CD
Characteristics: 9 audio discs (10.5 hours) : digital ; 4 3/4 in
Additional Contributors: Potter, Kirsten
Alternative Title: Station 11
Station Eleven

Opinion

From Library Staff

“An actor playing King Lear dies onstage just before a cataclysmic event changes the future of everyone on Earth. What will be valued and what will be discarded? Will art have a place in a world that has lost so much? What will make life worth living? These are just some of the issues explored in... Read More »


From the critics


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l
LandBeforeCats
Aug 11, 2017

*No Spoilers
This book kept me riveted and wondering what was coming next. It begins with a play that ties our characters together and quickly turns to the real world where a disease throws hospitals and entire cities into quarantine. We watch our characters move from this play to a very new world, many of them without their loved ones. The storytelling jumps between chatacters and between times, constantly leaving you dying to find out where the other chatacters have gone while you're desperate to get as much information from the character you're reading at the time. I often find jumps like this very jarring, but this book was written so "smartly" (if that's a way of saying it), that the jumps easily flow and take you with them.

OatmealThunder Jun 09, 2017

I heard this described as 'a sci-fi for people who don't like sci-fi.' Accurate. I would also say it's a hopeful tale for those who don't like sentiment. It's one of those books that's hard to describe when someone asks what you're reading. One of those books where you try and eventually say, "Just read it. It's good." So. Read it. It's good.

s
SCL_BookClubs
Jun 07, 2017

A mixed review from the bookclub. Some just couldn't get into it and felt that it was contrived and not as powerful as The Road. On the other end of the spectrum a reader thought it was powerful and made her grateful for the life she has. The most common statement was that they did not usually like science fiction but found it easy to get into.

s
Starpoem
Jun 03, 2017

* beautifully written
* chilling--the pandemic described in this book could happen RIGHT NOW
* but also uplifting--the plague survivors work to make the world a better place
* interesting ideas about the importance of creativity
* also, interesting ideas about the importance of community

scissorsnglue Jun 01, 2017

Gentle post-apocalypse! A very good read.

i
Ichijo
May 17, 2017

There are many reactions one can have after reading a book. A sense of accomplishment, a greater understanding of the world, joy, incredulousness, sadness, even sheer and utter 'what the hell... what the bloody hell?!'. Station Eleven left me with an uncanny reaction. I raised my arms up high and shouted to whatever God was listening 'At last... my pain, suffering and torment are at an end! May this book return to whatever hell it was spawned from and trouble me no more'.

d
danielestes
Apr 28, 2017

Simply riveting.

Station Eleven doesn't support (or need) a large cast of key players to tell the story of the end of civilization. In this case, less is more. Everything unfolds one non-linear puzzle piece at a time. You're shown this moment, then it's to the other size of the world for another moment, but then it skips ahead 15 years, and then back 10 years. It sounds disjointed the way I describe it but it absolutely works.

About halfway through, one of the characters references Justin Cronin's The Passage, which is another popular post-apocalyptic novel from a few years ago, but if I'm to compare the two, I like Station Eleven more. Telling the story of a shattered world in a way that doesn't disconnect itself from its humanity is to tell the story through the eyes of a small number of its inhabitants. Emily St. John Mandel manages this balance just right.

Short anecdote: At one point I was reading during a late night flight, and my surroundings were such that my sense of immersion was all too real. There was little to no chatter in the cabin of the plane due to the late hour, and the area outside my window was shrouded in close-to-pitch darkness. I could see a light here and there winking at me from the ground far below. For a story that's in part about the absence of people, I felt a genuine fear that I'm sure would not have occurred had I been reading on a cozy park bench during my lunch break.

laurengail Apr 21, 2017

Adult Lit Kit - 2014

s
spudwil
Apr 11, 2017

I enjoyed this book much more than I expected I would. Lots of themes and plot lines on so many levels along with excellent writing. This was a worthy book club read and it generated a long and interesting discussion on humanity, family, fine arts, and parallels with Shakespeare's King Lear. I tend to shy away from anything resembling science fiction or post-apocolyptic but this book was well worth reading.

n
njon38
Mar 25, 2017

By basing this dystopian novel on the character of Arthur Leander, the author should have made him worth reading about. Instead he was a caricature of a self absorbed, adulterous, celebrity whose life was not very interesting nor did he have particularly worthy insights. While the quality of the writing was strong in parts there was literal no plot and the characters were not particularly well drawn. It is not a book I would recommend.

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Quotes

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t
Tjad2L
Jul 13, 2017

"[...] everyone knows when you've got a terrible marriage, it's like having bad breath, you get close enough to a person and it's obvious."

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“She was thinking about the way she’d always taken for granted that the world had certain people in it, either central to her days or unseen and infrequently thought of. How without any one of these people the world is a subtly but unmistakably altered place, the dial turned just one or two degrees.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“They spend all their lives waiting for their lives to begin.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“I stood looking over my damaged home and tried to forget the sweetness of life on Earth.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“The beauty of this world where almost everyone was gone. If hell is other people, what is a world with almost no people in it?”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“It was gorgeous and claustrophobic. I loved it and I always wanted to escape.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“She had never entirely let go of the notion that if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“No one ever thinks they’re awful, even people who really actually are. It’s some sort of survival mechanism.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”

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Summary

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melwyk Sep 25, 2014

One snowy night in Toronto, an actor playing King Lear drops dead on stage. Only 24 hours later, most of the city is dead from a rapidly spreading virus. The few survivors find, as the electricity and water stop, as the internet drops out, that the virus has killed 99% of the world's population.

The question arises: how to live now? In Emily St John Mandel's unusual approach to a post-apocalyptic novel, the survivors of this modern plague retain their longing for community and civilization, trying their best to live in pockets of humanity across North America.

Early on, we meet the Travelling Symphony, a group of musicians and actors who travel caravan-style around the countryside, performing Shakespeare and symphonies to the scattered inhabitants of tiny settlements. As Kirsten, a main character, has tattooed on her arm: Survival is insufficient.

However, this symphony is also heavily armed, as chaos does exist in the new world. There are those in this rough life who rely on violence, including an eerie Prophet who controls a town the Travelling Symphony rolls into at the start of the story. This Prophet and his followers will pursue them for the rest of the book, adding an edge of suspense.

The story weaves back and forth from apocalyptic present to the past, revealing ways in which all the characters are connected. The constant return to 'before' results in a sense of nostalgia for what we haven't yet lost. Mandel points out precious elements of daily life that her characters have lost forever – the taste of an orange, the feel of air conditioning, ice cream, the ability to connect with one another by phone.

Throughout the book we also encounter Dr. Eleven, a scientist in a graphic novel that Kirsten has carried with her over the many years of post-apocalyptic life. The two volumes she owns of this tiny graphic novel sustain her. Dr. Eleven lives on a satellite, Station Eleven, after the earth is destroyed, and his story reflects her own. This imaginary graphic novel is fleshed out so wonderfully that I hope it is only a matter of time before Mandel releases a real-life edition.

This is a beautiful book; imaginative and full of complex characters, it is a post-apocalyptic novel that combines danger with beauty, sadness with hope. Mandel clearly believes that there is something good in humanity that will endure.

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