Thursday, 11 June 2015

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

Emily St John Mandel's new novel is a thrilling dystopian story that focuses on a small group of distantly connected characters. What they have in common is a link with a famous actor, Arthur Leander, who dies on stage in Toronto on the day a terrible flu virus strikes. This virus will kill ninety-nine per cent of the world's population.

The novel leaps back and forward through time - from the day Jeevan Chaudry performs CPR on Leander to years before when Jeevan was a paparazzo stalking him. Also on stage is child actor Kirsten Raymonde who turns up twenty years later with a travelling band of players, performing Shakespeare. It is a world of menace and danger, so the players are always prepared to defend themselves with crossbows and knives as need be.

Back in the past we also meet Miranda, Leander’s first wife and creator of the Station Eleven graphic novels, copies of which Kirsten carries with her in a backpack of memories. Mandel creates wonderful moments of nostalgia with characters collecting relics from the past while the players' motto, 'Survival is insufficient', is a quotation from Star Trek.

Station Eleven is an exciting dystopian novel on one level but more than that, it really touches the reader, asking you to decide what it is you would really miss if the world as we know it were to end and what your regrets might be. Not surprisingly this book has been in the running for a number of awards, and winning this year's Arthur C Clarke Award.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: Station Eleven

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