Wednesday, 30 December 2015

#29 Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I love me some Canadian authors. This wasn't half bad. The story begins with the death of our protagonist Arthur Leander. He dies whilst on stage performing King Lear. Jeevan a trainee paramedic who happened to be in the audience rushes to Arthurs aid but sadly could not save him. On Jeevans way home from the theater a flu breaks out that has the potential to kill many people. The Georgian Flu as it is later known killed many people and the story focuses on those before, during and after this time period.

The story is presented in multiple perspectives and doesn't get told chronologically which can be confusing but by a large it makes sense in the end, it spans decades that covers before and after the pandemic. The perspectives are from people that knew Arthur or had influenced him in some kind of way. The story follows the people that knew him and isn't really about Arthur at all but he is still undeniably the protagonist.

The book is post apocalyptic but there is not too much focus on the world itself but more the people and how they are coping with the new world. What is mentioned about the world and setting is that there are no cities or infrastructure after the great collapse but there are settlements in which people live. The story is woven together so intricately that as the reader you dont even notice until it becomes apparent and you can see the spider web for yourself, a good indication of well planned and clever writing.

The atmosphere of this book was similar to what you would expect from a contemporary romance novel, it was light and easy to get through but the story did not disappoint and the characters were so well thought out that it was impossible to get bored.  The symbolism used throughout this novel was very interesting, the significance of the tattoos as a theme was very interesting (i wont say too much in order to keep this spoiler free)

This is the type of book that would make a superb movie if done correctly that is. I was pleased that it was a stand alone and that it was wrapped up in 300 odd pages. What is wholly apparent is how hollow Arthurs life was, this is clear to the reader through the stories of how others saw him not just his son and ex wife. This was such an interesting and unique twist to the typical dystopian novels.

The negatives for me were the length and the pacing. At times the pacing was all wrong and it went through a few dryer chapters and the length was a little too long and could have been wrapped up much faster than it was. There were a few chapters dedicated to irrelevant characters that seemed unnecessary to the overall plot.

Overall, the writing was beautiful but it felt somewhat incomplete and certain things went unexplained. Still well worth a read.

'Because survival is insufficient' 

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