Station Eleven

Station Eleven

Book Club Kit - 2015 | Book club edition
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One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production. Jeevan Chaudhary, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur's chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside as life disintegrates outside. This novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, [2015]
Edition: Book club edition
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9780804172448
Branch Call Number: F MANDE-E
Characteristics: 14 books (333 pages ; 22 cm.) + 1 binder, in bin (27 x 42 x 28 cm.)
Alternative Title: Station 11


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Tacoma Public Library talks about books, and you can too!

Wheelock Branch held its monthly book discussion on April 6th. The book was the Tacoma Reads selection for 2016,Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. The group was a mixed gathering of readers; some loved the book, some didn't love it but were glad they read it, some were scratching their heads as to what it was all about, and some were still working their way through it. When asked what … (more)

From Library Staff

(2016 Tacoma Reads) An actor playing King Lear dies onstage just before a cataclysmic event changes the future of everyone on Earth. What will be valued and what will be discarded? Will art have a place in a world that has lost so much? What will make life worth living? These are just some of the... Read More »

An audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame, and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, from the author of three highly acclaimed previous novels. One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the... Read More »

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JCLMELODYK Sep 16, 2019

I probably wouldn't have finished this if I had not selected the audio version. I had trouble with the structure of the novel and where she was headed. In the end I enjoyed it and I'm glad I stuck with it.

Jul 07, 2019

Through one man's life - someone perhaps more selfish than most, more talented than many, more regretful than some - we watch the end of civilization and humanity in glimpses of the lives of people he affected. This is an almost perfect jewel of a book. Beautiful prose, stunning characterizations, heartbreaking and also uplifting story. Wow.

Jun 12, 2019

This is a quirky novel that deals with an apocalyptic scenario in a fresh way. I liked how all of the stories tied together and even though the story jumped around it was still easy to follow and make connections. Typically I don't like stories that don't tie everything up in a neat bow at the end, but I still enjoyed the book overall and still felt a sense of closure. I would recommend to my friends who may not be into science fiction but want to get into it.

Jun 01, 2019

The setting is post-apocalyptic/during the plague the ends civilization, but this story is entirely character driven. At its heart, it's about the choices we make and the threads (of coincidence? fate?) that weave between us. I find that a hopeful thing in general, the idea of Whitman's ductile threads connecting all life, and it's made even more so in this story with the contrast of monumental death tolls and the harshness of survival. We don't get too deep into any single character's life or head, but each character is definitely unique, understandable, fully realized, and relatable. Even the villain was shaped by trauma in a way that's sympathetic (and I love when a villain is sympathetic, even as I find their choices horrifying). This was a quick and engaging read that remained thought-provoking with a thread of hope throughout.

May 18, 2019


May 17, 2019

1. Too much fantasy.

IndyPL_SteveB May 11, 2019

A famous Hollywood actor has a heart attack and dies while performing King Lear on stage. Within a few weeks, 99% of the world’s population is dead from a virulent version of the flu. The survivors either had immunity or were fortunate to be somewhere where the flu was never brought. Coincidentally, several of the survivors happen to be people with a connection to the actor. Mandel ranges back and forward in time, showing the backgrounds of the main characters, the collapse of civilization, and the attempts of some of the survivors to maintain their humanity and culture when everything has changed.

The novel starts slowly and then is confusing for a while until the reader is able to see the outlines of the author’s vision. But eventually I was hooked and compelled to finish, as the novel ends in both sadness and hope. It’s a carefully crafted, compelling novel about *people*, not a science fiction adventure, not really a disaster novel.

May 05, 2019

Station Eleven is unlike any dystopian novel I have ever read. First of all, most apocalyptic books take place after the world order has been destroyed. Station Eleven, however, follows three (or more) different story lines: one takes place before an apocalyptic flu, one during the pandemic and one in the new dystopian reality, united by the night the apocalypse begins. It’s a puzzle to figure the various ways in which all of the characters are connected, which I enjoy. The novel is very plot driven, but not at the sacrifice of characters. Even though the story featured a large cast, I found myself being able to distinguish the players quite easily. However, since the story switches narrators, time and location often, it may be hard for some to keep track of. I would recommend reading Station Eleven in a fairly short period of time, as taking breaks from reading for a few days may leave you confused about where you are in the novel. Finally, if I could make one suggestion for improvement, it would be to feature more of the character Jeevan, who, although technically being a main character was featured far less than expected. Sadly, I was left feeling like his story was not fully explored. Station Eleven is truly a masterpiece, and one of my favourite novels, recommended for anyone seeking a sophisticated dystopian mystery. @viedelabibliothèque of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

Without spoiling much, Station Eleven is the most positive, upbeat, and least depressing pre/post-apocalyptic book I have ever read. Maybe in existence. It shifts between the perspectives of several different people well before, just before, during and after a kind of world-shattering event that you just cannot run from. A few key elements are present which connect these characters and events in a way that the story alone does not, even though the story does so well enough. Plus, many of these common elements have multiple possible deeper meanings that pertain to art, to religion, to fame and to ambition. In addition, the book asks important questions about human desire and beliefs. Eight and a half out of ten for pure surprise and enjoyment. @R2-D2 of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

Hillsboro_RobP Apr 22, 2019

Somber and beautiful. A slow burning post-and-pre apocalypse that does right by its characters. Science fiction in very good hands.

Apr 10, 2019

Interesting story about life on Earth after a pandemic hits. Great characters and interwoven stories.

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Jul 13, 2017

"[...] everyone knows when you've got a terrible marriage, it's like having bad breath, you get close enough to a person and it's obvious."

Apr 14, 2017

“She was thinking about the way she’d always taken for granted that the world had certain people in it, either central to her days or unseen and infrequently thought of. How without any one of these people the world is a subtly but unmistakably altered place, the dial turned just one or two degrees.”

Apr 14, 2017

“They spend all their lives waiting for their lives to begin.”

Apr 14, 2017

“I stood looking over my damaged home and tried to forget the sweetness of life on Earth.”

Apr 14, 2017

“The beauty of this world where almost everyone was gone. If hell is other people, what is a world with almost no people in it?”

Apr 14, 2017

“It was gorgeous and claustrophobic. I loved it and I always wanted to escape.”

Apr 14, 2017

“She had never entirely let go of the notion that if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.”

Apr 14, 2017

“No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars.”

Apr 14, 2017

“No one ever thinks they’re awful, even people who really actually are. It’s some sort of survival mechanism.”

Apr 14, 2017

“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”

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Feb 03, 2019

FaithR thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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melwyk Sep 25, 2014

One snowy night in Toronto, an actor playing King Lear drops dead on stage. Only 24 hours later, most of the city is dead from a rapidly spreading virus. The few survivors find, as the electricity and water stop, as the internet drops out, that the virus has killed 99% of the world's population.

The question arises: how to live now? In Emily St John Mandel's unusual approach to a post-apocalyptic novel, the survivors of this modern plague retain their longing for community and civilization, trying their best to live in pockets of humanity across North America.

Early on, we meet the Travelling Symphony, a group of musicians and actors who travel caravan-style around the countryside, performing Shakespeare and symphonies to the scattered inhabitants of tiny settlements. As Kirsten, a main character, has tattooed on her arm: Survival is insufficient.

However, this symphony is also heavily armed, as chaos does exist in the new world. There are those in this rough life who rely on violence, including an eerie Prophet who controls a town the Travelling Symphony rolls into at the start of the story. This Prophet and his followers will pursue them for the rest of the book, adding an edge of suspense.

The story weaves back and forth from apocalyptic present to the past, revealing ways in which all the characters are connected. The constant return to 'before' results in a sense of nostalgia for what we haven't yet lost. Mandel points out precious elements of daily life that her characters have lost forever – the taste of an orange, the feel of air conditioning, ice cream, the ability to connect with one another by phone.

Throughout the book we also encounter Dr. Eleven, a scientist in a graphic novel that Kirsten has carried with her over the many years of post-apocalyptic life. The two volumes she owns of this tiny graphic novel sustain her. Dr. Eleven lives on a satellite, Station Eleven, after the earth is destroyed, and his story reflects her own. This imaginary graphic novel is fleshed out so wonderfully that I hope it is only a matter of time before Mandel releases a real-life edition.

This is a beautiful book; imaginative and full of complex characters, it is a post-apocalyptic novel that combines danger with beauty, sadness with hope. Mandel clearly believes that there is something good in humanity that will endure.


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