Posted in Bloggers, Reviews, Sophie

Bringing Humanity Back

Hey, again! I have also recently finished Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. She was selected as a finalist for the Pen Faulkner Award and as the Michigan read by the Michigan Humanities Council (or something like that, I can’t remember the exact names). I also had the chance to meet her in person and go to a reading for this book. It was wonderful and I was super awkward but she was the first author I met in person and I got my first book signed!

Here’s my overview:

Jeevan Chaudhary is a EMT in training. He has his whole life ahead of him with his cranky girlfriend and a quiet life in Toronto, Canada. He is quietly sitting in the audience of a performance of King Lear when the famous actor Arthur Leander collapses on stage of a heart attack. Wanting to help, Jeevan rushes on stage and attempts to save Arthur’s life but to no avail. That night the flu swept through the city and the rest of the world, causing civilization to come to a grinding halt within a matter of weeks.

Twenty-six years later, pockets of humanity remain alive and functioning. A troupe of musicians and actors move through what was formerly northern Michigan and Canada performing Shakespeare’s treasured works. They are called the Traveling Symphony and they bring happiness and distraction to the cities they visit, providing a brief respite from the harsh world they now live in. When the Symphony arrives in St. Deborah by the Water, a city they had been hitting in their route for years, they find that it has changed drastically. A man who claims he is a prophet runs the city now and threatens the way of life for the small band of travelers.

Alright! I really liked this novel and am glad I got to experience so much along with it. Unlike other dystopian novels, Station Eleven focuses more on the recuperation of civilization and the factor of the live/performing arts. It’s a great twist on something that has been quite hot in the past couple of years (oh, hey, The Hunger Games and Divergent). There are three different stories that go on within the novel; one takes place pre-plague and two post-plague. I really liked Jeevan’s story though I wish I had gotten more of it to read about it. I also liked all that had to do with the Symphony. I love the idea that someone would keep going on with music and acting and that not everything would die out. I do wonder what would stay and what would go in the event that humans were pretty much wiped out. Another good aspect of this novel is that Mandel doesn’t dive into any political theories or environmental stances, I think that would take a lot away from what the main focus of the novel. It is a very hopeful novel, especially the ending. I thought it was an okay ending, but many other people that I’ve spoken with thought it fit it perfectly. I can definitely see that because it’s an extremely positive note it ends on. Overall, it was well written and I loved seeing how all three stories intertwined. That was my favorite part, I think.

Okay, happy reading!

Sophie

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