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Station Eleven Review: Back-of-Book Description
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse—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. Now an original series on HBO Max. Over one million copies sold!
Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end.
Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.
Station Eleven Review: My Thoughts
I honestly can’t remember where I even heard of this book, or why I wanted to read it. Except I put it on my list of books I hoped to get as Christmas gifts, and then I got it! I was thrilled. After I opened it, we discussed that it was also a show somewhere (HBO Max) and how I wanted to read it first.
I started Station Eleven at the end of January or the first of February and was finished within a week. I really enjoyed the writing and the storyline in general. It starts off with some action, with a sudden death during a play rolling into what will be the start of the collapse of modern civilization.
I honestly don’t remember if I knew this story would be about a worldwide pandemic that would wipe out most of the population? Seems like interesting timing – although I am glad I read the book after COVID-19 came about so I wouldn’t be freaked out at the start, I guess.
In any case! That’s what it’s about. But most of the story takes place in the time just before it hits, or 20 years after the fact. So you get to see how people are living well after the adjustment period.
The writing was really good and I can see why it was a national bestseller! I thought the premise of a group of people traveling around to different settlements and performing plays was really cool. A also liked the way the author explored various relationships – both before the collapse and after.
The characters all felt real and interesting in their own stories. She flips back and forth in time and also between different characters, focusing on different ones throughout. But it’s all written from the third person, which was an interesting change of pace compared to other books I’ve read recently.
The settings were great and easy to picture. The dialogue flowed smoothly. I found a lot of the situations thought-provoking (it would make a great book club book). And I really liked how the characters from different generations had different memories from before the collapse – or no memory at all.
As I write this I have also watched a few episodes of the show. It’s well done with good actors, but it does deviate from the book, and in most instances I don’t understand why they did that. The storyline in the book is perfect and could have related to the screen just fine.
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Favorite Quotes from Station Eleven
“It is sometimes necessary to break everything.”
“She started to explain her project to him again but the words stopped in her throat. ‘You don’t have to understand it,’ she said. ‘It’s mine.'”
“The argument had lost all of its sting over the years and had become something like a familiar room where they met.”
“Hell is the absence of the people you long for.”
“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”
“This is my soul and the world unwinding, this is my heart in the still winter air. Finally whispering the same two words over and over: ‘Keep walking. Keep walking. Keep walking.'”
“If nothing else, it’s pleasant to consider the possibility.”
Station Eleven Review: In Conclusion
I thoroughly enjoyed Station Eleven! 4.75 stars. It was a beautiful story and I have only a teeny complaint. I never wanted it to end, but then it did. A little too soon in my opinion.
The story itself is terrific, the characters were memorable and relatable, and the writing was superb. I would recommend it to everyone I know! Even if you don’t usually like dystopian stories, you might like this one as it is forward enough (20 years after collapse) and also goes back to the past enough that it doesn’t feel too chaotic or gloomy. It’s really great and you should click on the links to the side or below to grab your copy!
Oh and read it before watching the show!
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