Saturday, January 2, 2016

Shakespearean actors travel through an apocalyptic future Michigan

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: apocalyptic fiction

An apocalyptic event takes 99 percent of the population in a very short amount of time. Station Eleven takes place for the most part about 20 years after the population diminishing event. The violence in the new world has become less but there is still very little trust between those who survive. The stories in Station Eleven radiate out from Arthur, the Shakespearean actor whose death we read of first. Kirsten, who was a child actor in Arthur's last play, is now a member of a traveling troupe of actors and musicians called The Symphony. She and the rest of the troupe travel through northern Michigan, along the lake shore, stopping in the small towns made up of survivors along the way and entertaining them with plays and music. In one town they come across the Prophet, who has turned the town into a dangerous place for anyone who doesn't follow him. The troupe leaves as quickly as they can but are unable to avoid trouble. They become separated and as they attempt to find each other the story flashes back to a time before the apocalyptic event, and tells the story of Arthur, and the reader begins to see the connections between Arthur and the people who have survived.
The writing is beautiful and the characters are engaging. The plot is not too suspenseful and the story isn't plot driven but, that said, it doesn't affect the enjoyment of the novel, because the writing, the setting, and the characters are enough. It's also rather hopeful and uplifting for an apocalyptic novel.

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