Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is a dystopian novel that weaves back and forth through time before and after a flu pandemic has ended US and Canadian civilization as everyone once knew it. I read this with @kraysbookclub and @downtogetthefictionon for their #notyomamasbookclub pick this month on Instagram.
We follow Arthur a stage actor who suddenly dies onstage during a performance as the flu begins to run rampant. We get to see his life leading up to the pandemic and what follows. We meet Kirsten and her traveling symphony whose goals are to keep Shakespeare, theater and the performing arts alive in this time of despair. We meet Jeevan who attempts to save Arthur on stage and we see how his life plays out before and after the flu spreads. And finally we meet Tyler, Arthur’s son and see how his life unfolds after loosing his father and learning to navigate this new world as a boy and then as a man.
This one was not exactly what I expected it to be and I did struggle with it at times. Some parts would pick up and others seemed like they dragged forever. The book is beautifully written and is an interesting take on what our world may look like in a post-apocalyptic time. I think if you are looking to spend some time in a book that explores the survival of art expression during dark times you may really enjoy this. I was never able to get out of my head and the expectations I had for a dystopian-flu-pandemic novel. If I had started the book under different circumstances I probably would have liked it more but overall it was a little underwhelming for me.