Monday, December 28, 2015

Review: Station Eleven

Station Eleven Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Hell is the absence of the people you long for."

As many know by now, the science fiction genre in publishing has recently been gathering a lot of steam. We have books like Divergent that are very heavily hyped due to heavy action and excitement, something that just didn't work for me... we have Flowers for Algernon, a novel that had come from the beloved short story, a story that I love in both forms for its analysis of what excess knowledge can do to the human soul... and then we have Station Eleven, a novel that, upon initial look at, I was skeptical about. However, Mandel paints an exquisite picture of this amazingly believable world... it is our world... and it has been shattered in a sinister, quiet, and very destructive way.
One snowy night in Toronto, Canada, a famous Hollywood actor, Arthur Leander, dies of a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, leaps to Arthur's aid, but the curtain drops and it is too late. Meanwhile, a flight from Moscow arrives, transporting people who unwittingly carry an extremely deadly disease known as the Georgia Flu and are immediately transported to the hospital upon the flight arriving. Soon enough, the disease is all over the world, people dying like flies as our present civilization dies with them. The novel leaps back and forth in time, before and after the pandemic, illustrating the remarkable resilience of people and what urges them to continue fighting, even when all seems lost.
This novel was a beautiful metaphor for the fragility of the human race. Every point of view introduced felt like a uniquely refreshing look at whatever occurred. I especially loved seeing Arthur's viewpoint toward the end. In my progress, I wrote that I didn't really like him. Well, after reading his viewpoint, I respect him. I cannot say that I like him, but all I ask from characters is to make me care, and that is what was done.
And can I just take a moment to say how much I love the Traveling Symphony? They are so incredibly strong. Their relationship with the Prophet was executed beautifully, with suspense and danger at every turn.
This novel is unlike any dystopian novel that I have read. It scares me with its brutal shocking realism. I have grown suspicious of most science fiction stories that use dystopia as a backdrop due to all-too-often shoddy world building, but this is the best world building I've ever seen in a science fiction novel.
Station Eleven was a national book award finalist and has totally earned it.
Five stars.

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