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Monday, December 19, 2016

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven is a realistic and stunning novel about the end of the world. The author didn't need aliens, a meteor or supernatural forces in order to wipe out the majority of humanity. Nor did the fallen humans comes back to life and cause havoc as zombies. The fictional virus called the Georgian Flu killed a good portion of the human population throughout the world, and while a good portion of the novel is dedicated to what happens twenty years after the epidemic, the author also delves into the backstory of her main characters and where they were when the epidemic started.

The more you read the novel, the more your realize how interconnected the characters are. A child actress, a seasoned hollywood actor, a graphic novelist, a paparazzi turned paramedic, and a prophet, just to name a few. Kirsten Raymonde, the child actress now in her twenties,  has survived a great deal in this blacked out world. She is part of the Traveling Symphony, a group of artists that travel across the northeastern USA, performing Shakespeare plays and symphonies for the towns they visit. But when they return to a town called St. Deborah on the Water, something has gone very wrong. The artists they had left behind a while back have vanished and a so called prophet has taken over the town. This prophet and his cult threaten the survival of the members of the Traveling Symphony. And here begins the story of how the Symphony manages to escape and the dangers they encounter on the road to safety.

I would consider Kirsten the main character because her life somehow manages to be linked to most of the other characters in the book, whether in the present or in the past. Her life doesn't necesserily influence everyone else's, but the links are there, however subtle. For example, she was there when the hollywood actor died on stage before the epidemic, while the paramedic tried to resuscitate him. She's obsessed with Station Eleven, a graphic novel by the hollywood actor's ex-wife. Her story is a sad one, full of loss and hardship, but it's the only life she knows and she tries to make the best of it.

This novel isn't just about surviving in the apocalyptic world. It's really about relationships and human connections. I loved the way the author wrote the novel, with its slow build and the links between the present and the past. The old and the new. I'm usually not very fond of novels that go back and forth between past and present, but it was done beautifully in this book. I especially loved how the graphic novel Station Eleven ties into the novel. While not an integral part of the story, the graphic novel somehow allows Kirsten to stay grounded and it also somehow gives her hope. It allows her to remember the past, but also look forward to a brighter future. Personally, I would love for the graphic novel to get published in real life. It's a "fictional" graphic novel, but the author somehow makes you believe it's real. I can almost imagine the art within the covers and the possible outcome of the story.

I can't classify this novel in science-fiction because although it's set in the future, there are no futuristic elements in the novel. It's not dystopian either because there's no global or nation-wide society that promotes oppression and control. Post-apocalyptic might be the best sub-genre, but honestly I want to believe it's more than that. It's about humanity, and its constant need to survive. It's about optimism and our need to leave our mark behind. Many of the key players in this storyline haven't survived past the first few days of the epidemic, however, they   somehow have managed to mark Kirsten's life, even in death.

Station Eleven is a beautiful, dark and fascinating book. While not long very long, it still took me a while to read it. I kept pausing after a few chapters in order to absorb the story and the scenery as much as possible. I highly recommend it, to anyone, even if you're reluctant to read this certain genre.


Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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