Book Discussion: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

This book was surprising. It was surprising that I decided to buy it as I basically did that on a whim. The story was surprising. The emotions that this book aroused, even more so. This book has amazing reviews on Goodreads but it’s premise didn’t sound that interesting to me. Thank god I finally decided to pick it up. Because trust me, you probably have never read a book quite like this ever in your life.

Goodreads Synopsis

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

This book was recommended by many. And now I am going to recommend this to you guys. The first thing that I want to talk about is how this book highlighted the good parts of humanity. Nowadays, almost all of the book that we read, are about the cruelty, the immorality and the savageness of humans. But this book is just the opposite. It is a story of survival without the negativity that comes with these stories. Though there are a lot of things that may be perceived as cruelty in the story, the writing prevents you from interpreting them in a negative fashion. The story tells you that each and everyone of us are interconnected. It is positive and inspiring. And that makes it unique.

Then there’s the writing style. It’s so beautiful! It is subtle but not too subtle. She has her unique style of writing but it is not ornamental. It doesn’t distract from the story. Also, you can never get ahead of her. Every time you think that you notice something that can later prove to be substantial, she reveals it in the very next chapter and it doesn’t lead up to anything big. That’s another great thing about this book. There’s no “big” thing that the whole story is leading up to. Each and every moment in the story is precious and they add up with the ending to form a beautiful story.

The characters in this are a different story altogether. They are each unique in their own way. And the uniqueness of the characters make it possible for them to make unique decisions which lead to certain events in the story which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. If you have already read the story, you will understand that how certain things come in possession of certain people is purely the result of their own personalities mixed with some coincidences. Jeevan, Arthur, Miranda, Elizabeth, Tyler, Tanya, Kristin, August, Clark and all the other people are playing their parts in their specific way and the result is astonishing.

This is a post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel. And these are so common right now that it is hard to find original content in this genre. And this author managed to do that. I am so in awe of her creativity and her ability to create such a fantastic world. I know this review sounds so heavy and it may even sound pretentious but trust me, when you read the book, you’ll know. It’s so very hard to describe the book! I feel like I would never be able to do justice to the book if I try to describe it or suggest it to someone. But you have seen the synopsis, and if you are even a little bit interested, I request you to take my word for it once and just give it a go. I am sure that it’s going to grip you from the first page and won’t let you go! There are so many things that I have not talked about in this post. In fact, I managed to cover only the bare minimum in this. There are so many themes within this book. I mean, so many Shakespearean themes are used in this and there are so many that I couldn’t even begin to understand! It’s so complex and yet so simple. It’s a book of many contradictions.

Okay. I HAVE to stop now. Otherwise, I am going to keep on rambling and make this post more boring to read than it already is. But please TRY to give this a go. This is the first book I read in 2016 and I’m so glad I did that. Please comment your thoughts if you’ve read this book! I would love to hear them so much! I have so much left to say but I have to stop here now. See you again soon!

Fin!

My rating- 4.5/5.

My Goodreads rating- 5/5.

-Sanchita.

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