3 Stars out of 5
Hardcover, 384 page
Expected publication: September 10th 2014
Available from: AMAZON, WATERSTONES and other online stores
The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the earth like a neutron bomb.
News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%.
Civilization has crumbled.
A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe.
But now a new danger looms, and he threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild.
Moving backwards and forwards in time, from the glittering years just before the collapse to the strange and altered world that exists twenty years after, Station Eleven charts the unexpected twists of fate that connect six people: famous actor Arthur Leander; Jeevan – warned about the flu just in time; Arthur’s first wife Miranda; Arthur’s oldest friend Clark; Kirsten, a young actress with the Travelling Symphony; and the mysterious and self-proclaimed ‘prophet’.
I found it hard to know where to start with the review of this book. I found it completely confusing and aimless. The premise of the book appears to be great. End of the world pandemic of Georgia Flu….then 20 years on, combined with flashbacks of pre end of the world. However, I could not identify with any of the characters. I w\anted to ‘know’ them but could only stand on the periphery looking in. I was unsure of who was the protagonist, if it was Arthur Leandon, well he died before the pandemic, Kirsty who survived does not open herself to the reader, and others who would mean many protagonists. I wanted to connect to any of characters in depth but was unable to do so.
The idea of the novel was brilliant, but I was so confused by the continual reflection back on the lives of people before the pandemic because they did not appear to add to the story.
I felt I was reading two novels; the first of the lives of various people pre-pandemic and the second novel; post end of the world and beyond. However the two mixed together did not work for me.
I kept waiting for the story to begin and then felt it never did. There were snippets of what was happening but it never appeared to be headed towards any final end.
The characters pre-pandemic were elaborated on throughout the story as ‘flashbacks’ so that they were sort of connected by proxy instead of being a progression of the story.
There were however, some beautiful lines and observations that St John Mandel makes that are worth reading.
With the realisation of the pandemic ending the world as all would know it, I like the way she uses the way social media is synonymous with the loss of hopes and dreams with the sentence:
‘No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling though litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship – status updates with heart icons…..
and I love the way executives in businesses are described as ‘high functioning sleep walkers’. I think I have known some of those!
– and the one thing I could identify with is the line:
A life, remembered is a series of photographs and disconnected short films
St John Mandel has a real insight into the fact that cities are human in everything, take the human out and the city is no more, it dies.
What I wanted was to read was a book post pandemic as I am a sucker for an end of the world book. What I got was something else that was more of a prequel to this with a smattering of the post pandemic.
The ending for me was disappointing because it left me nowhere. I had no idea where it would go to next.
This is such a different book that I can only say that it is either a love it or hate it book.
I so wanted to love it because of the potential plot, but it did not make the impression on me that I wanted it to.
My thanks to the publisher for receiving this copy via Netgalley for my honest review.