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, Ontario, Canada : Harper Avenue, [2014]
Edition: First Canadian edition.
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9781443434867
Branch Call Number: MANDE
Characteristics: 333 pages ; 23 cm
Alternative Title: Station 11


From Library Staff

Survival is insufficient". I'm all for finding beauty in life even as we struggle. This book was full of light and hope.

August 14 Selection

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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Feb 20, 2020

Maria's list

CMLibrary_sdeason Feb 13, 2020

This is a fantastic book with some difficult human emotions discussed. Very well written.

OPL_DavidD Jan 28, 2020

A nonlinear look at different connected people, before, during, and after the collapse of society, is used to look at our relationships to each other and what art can mean to us. The bleakness has led some to compare it to Cormac McCarthy, but the moments of humane warmth in the horrible situations and the focus on theater reminded me of Fritz Leiber.

ArapahoeJulieH Jan 09, 2020

Set in the early days of civilization’s collapse after a deadly flu pandemic, Station Eleven follows the Traveling Symphony, a theatre troupe, and five people connected through a twist of fate including the author of an obscure graphic novel, hence this novel’s title. This post apocalyptic novel filters out the graphic and disturbing details one encounters in the likes of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road... Mandel leaves this up to the imagination. Station Eleven is a reminder of the innovations humanity has accomplished in a brief span of time; how much we take for granted in our daily lives and, that the beauty of the world we know hangs in a delicate and precarious balance.

neyoscribbles Nov 29, 2019

This novel has a million different characters but you become so close to all of them. The landscape is painted so well that the reader can’t help but feel as though they are a part of the Apocalypse without it being a fantasy or very sci-fi-esque novel. What if scenarios and survival related questions will quickly fill the reader’s mind, but the point is not to survive just to survive. I really loved the ending – it beautifully tied all the characters together and created a lasting effect of hope and a sense of community.

Nov 19, 2019

I read this a few years ago and liked it alright (not much of a sci fi fan). I kept thinking about it off and on so I read it again. It is a bit disjointed, but I thought her interpretation of life after a pandemic engaging and realistic. Main characters and premises are interesting. Definitely worth a read.

Oct 18, 2019

Not worth the wait. another distopean story where the plot is all. Little character development. I got no futher than page 73

Sep 26, 2019

Not a book to read when you are home with the flu, as it is about the world after a flu epidemic kills about 9/10's of the population.
Fairly standard dystopian genre for adults; another reviewer described it as 'gentle', and I think that is a great description of it.

Would I look out any more of this author's - no, not original enough.

Sep 24, 2019

The most impressive part of this book is the intricacy of the plotting. There are approximately a thousand different characters in two separate major timelines, and Mandel keeps them all coordinated enough to pull off an ending that smashed. The prose was often heartbreakingly lovely, and many of the characters were complex and interesting. As a literary novel, this is quite good. As a speculative fiction novel, it was less impressive, mostly because it deals with themes that are solidly in the mainstream of speculative fiction, about the end of the world and what that means for human relationships and communities. Mandel’s mechanism for ending the world is a commonly used one—plague features everywhere from Biblical apocalypses to the YA novels I was reading in the 90s. But this is not a bad example of that subgenre. For me it wasn’t that fresh, but it was beautiful, and if you have the time for it you’ll probably like it.

JCLMELODYK Sep 16, 2019

I probably wouldn't have finished this if I had not selected the audio version. I had trouble with the structure of the novel and where she was headed. In the end I enjoyed it and I'm glad I stuck with it.

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Add a Quote
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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Age Suitability

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Feb 03, 2019

FaithR thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


Add a Summary
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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