Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two words: read it! Ok, two more words: loved it! I saved the final 15 pages for a purposeful, respectful book finishing moment which is unusual for me: I often race through a book and don't care much how it ends (I'm more of a middle person).

This book has won a lot of critical praise for good reason: it's a satisfying mix of sophisticated literature, compelling dystopian plot, character development and rumination on what it is to be human. Nothing better than a dystopian novel that turns into a celebration of what it means to be human.

A deadly flu kills off most of the human race. We see what happens before the plague, how it unfolds, what happens immediately after, and ends with how humans rebuild after the cataclysm. Our orientation is around a movie star, the people in his life, and what happens to them before and after the plague. All the pieces orbit a totemic comic book called "Station Eleven" treasured by a main character, a young member of a post-flu traveling Shakespeare/orchestra troupe.

One of the most wonderful things about this novel is the way it progresses through the character's lives: we think about toddlers, youth, teens, young adults, middle aged people and the elderly. This is a rich extended metaphor for the way the novel explores the unfolding and aftermath of the plague.

I recommend this to almost anyone--it's that good!

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