Station Eleven: A novel

Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel During a production of King Lear at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto Arthur Leander, the lead actor, suddenly collapses and dies on stage. No one knows what happened, but we soon learn that it is the “Georgia Flu”, a pandemic that will nearly wipe out the world’s population.

Twenty years later we meet the “Travelling Symphony” a band of actors and musicians who guide us through what is left of civilization. Through conversations and interviews we learn what has happened in the past twenty years.

With doom and gloom on every news broadcast and apocalypse scenarios ranging from Aztec curses to Zombie attacks on every other channel we seem to be in an “end of life as we know it” rut, so why would I pick up a book that is more of the same? Honestly, I am not sure about that myself, since it’s not my usual read. But I am glad I did. The book is filled with interesting vignettes about the people who banded together to survive – the group that never left the airport they were stranded in and eventually turned it into a pre-flu museum, the group of sales people who turned the motel they were staying in into a small and highly functional community and, or course, the obligatory evil cult leader bent on taking over what is left of the world.

Not quite as bleak as McCarthy’s The Road and slightly reminiscent of King’s The Stand this book left me with the feeling that maybe as humans we are not so bad after all.