Station Eleven

Station Eleven

A Novel

Book - 2014 | First Canadian edition.
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A novel about art, fame and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse. One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies on-stage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time, this novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Travelling Symphony, caught in the cross-hairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.
Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins Publishers Limited [2014]
Edition: First Canadian edition.
ISBN: 9781443434867
Branch Call Number: MANDE
Characteristics: 333 pages ; 23 cm
Alternative Title: Station 11


From Library Staff

August 14 Selection

Tuesday, February 21: STATION ELEVEN, by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf, 2015). Emily St. John Mandel has managed to write an immensely entertaining novel about the end of the world. A flight lands in the middle of the United States and unleashes a horrific virus, essentially ending the world as we... Read More »

To be read for May 9th.

Vero_biblio Jul 17, 2015

A pandemic kills 99.9% of the population. The story follows Kristen Raymond, an actress in a nomadic theater company crossing a post-apocalyptic America, as well as other characters who were linked to Raymond, one way or another, before the pandemic. A nostalgic tale that centers on the character... Read More »

JessicaGma Mar 30, 2015

This is the best book I've read so far this year. It is post-apocalyptic done right, but also very well written where the characters keep intersecting in various ways.

From the critics

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Mar 22, 2018

Shakespeare doesn't do much for me and the notion of a troupe of Shakespeare actors traveling through a dystopian, post-apocalyptic landscape is just too goofy. I don't think I made it to page 50, when the characters were rehearsing their lines to King Lear....(groan).

Mar 19, 2018

I hesitated starting to read this book because I didn't think I would like or feel connected to a book about performers in a play. It sounded way too sci-fi-ey for me. I WAS WRONG. This book is fantastic. The first few pages I thought my fears were being realized and that I was not going to be able to finish it, but then after that initial section (of 2 ish pages) I could not put the novel down. A really fantastic read & it was very difficult to read anything afterward because nothing lived up to it.

SPPL_Kristen Mar 13, 2018

It feels odd to call a novel about the apocalypse beautiful and tender, but that is exactly what Station Eleven is. It showcases the best (and worst) of humanity without tipping over into cheesiness. Mandel also captures the horrors of living in a post-apocalyptic world without leaning too heavily on gore and violence. Even if you're not usually into the genre, Station Eleven is worthy of your precious shelf space.

Mar 08, 2018

I read this because it was recommended by the BPL. Great read. Thanks for recommending it BPL.

Miss Maggie Mar 08, 2018

I was expecting people to travel through time a la worm holes or a supernatural force in physics since this book is cataloged as time travel fiction. Alas, what they actually mean is that the story is told in shifting perspectives in different time periods. Bummer. I like time travelers.

Feb 28, 2018

I didn't believe I would like this book very much. I'm not into dystopian, end-of-the-world, post-apocalyptic books. But this. This was done so beautifully. I loved how it was written, choosing one point in time- the death of Arthur Leander, as the moment that the world ended. St. John Mandel took that moment and spiraled outward, both forward and backward in time, years before the Georgia flu ended the world, and twenty years after. The blurb on the back is a little misleading; it claims it's about a traveling symphony and a prophet. It is, but it's so much more than that. It's really about five or six people who were close with the actor who passed away- their lives before and after the virus that killed 99% of the world's population. Mandel weaves the stories so seamlessly that we don't know that the characters are going to collide with each other until a few pages before, because we're so wrapped up in their individual struggles and survival.
Mandel is frank with us about her story and the cost of the flu that rampaged across the world. Kirsten finds skeletons in their cars. In their beds. On the side of the road. Mandel shares the fates of random characters with us. A stagehand dies of exposure on the road to Quebec a week after Leander dies. Two little girls die two days later at home in bed. An entire airplane full of sick people lands and stays closed for twenty years. This seems harsh, but the end of the world as we know it would be tragic, and terrible, and horribly sad. It is made clear that some people are immune to the virus, and others survived because they were hidden away and prepared.
In the end, this novel is more of a feeling, or an impression. The second half of the book was constantly giving me goosebumps. Mandel keeps using words like impossibly, irrevocably, inescapable, inevitable, and others that completely set the tone of the novel. It conveys despair and the end of something, but possibly also a beginning of something else.
I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who specifically likes post-apocalypse novels, because this is more character driven than world-building, but here, it really works. Because, as Kirsten noted, "Survival is insufficient."

Jan 11, 2018

One of my most absolute FAVOURITE books. Mandel is a gifted writer who paints vivid scenes, and makes you care about each of the characters. A must read.

Jan 06, 2018

Station Eleven is definitely a thought-provoking book. It is written in such a lyrical way that it gently pulses in my head as I read it. The content in itself is worth five stars. All of the very different story lines (both in the present and in the past) are tied together in an interesting way. Even with the dream-like writing, the book felt very realistic to me. Station Eleven is a must read for anyone who likes realistic or dystopian fiction.

Nov 08, 2017

I enjoy survival stories. This one was not put together the way I expected the story to read, and I think that gave it an additional twist. The author was inventive about many of her creations, like the Traveling Symphony that toured along Lake Michigan area after the pandemic knocked out 99.9% of the population. I'll have to check out the other books she has written. The one thing that surprised me about reviews is that this survival story got a lot of rave reviews that I didn't understand. I personally preferred Lucifer's Hammer, for example, which Station Eleven reminded me of a lot. I recommend Station Eleven highly however.

Oct 26, 2017

This book is amazing. It really makes you think.

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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."

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.”

Apr 14, 2017

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

Apr 14, 2017

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

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?”

Apr 14, 2017

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

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.”

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.”

Apr 14, 2017

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

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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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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