Station Eleven is a science fiction post-apocalyptic survival story from Emily St. John Mandel. The premise is of a flu epidemic that rips through Toronto, Canada, very quickly and killing anyone who comes into contact with it.
The book begins with a riveting narrative (see sentence above) in which an actor named Arthur dies while performing a Shakespearian play onstage. It then follows Jeevan, a trainee paramedic and member of the audience as he discusses the flu epidemic via telephone call with his friend Hua, who works in a hospital. After that, the story becomes a jumble of different plotlines that drift back and forth and sideways, with no real direction or meaning.
There’s a Travelling Symphony composed of various actors and musicians, most of whom don’t even use real names, instead being called third cello, the clarinet, sixth guitarist etc. The book also narrates prior details of Arthur’s life before the flu epidemic, and brief accounts of his ex-wives and close friends during the early days of the outbreak. But things only begin to get interesting about 70% of the way through the book, and even then it’s just a temporary respite from the monotony.
Currently, I can’t quite remember what prompted me to read this book. I think I saw a review online, or a recommendation somewhere that piqued my interest. However, it wasn’t really worth bothering with. I persevered to the end, mostly just to see if the book improved or if the individual elements later came together to make proper sense. Sadly, this didn’t really happen, and there wasn’t any real conclusion as such. At 1 out of 5 stars I found the novel to be dull, disjointed and nonsensical. My advice, best avoided, however should anyone wish to check out Station Eleven you can find it on Amazon.co.uk here.