Publication date: September 9, 2014
Pages: 333 pages
Genre: Speculative fiction
Rating: 4/5 stars ☆☆☆☆
Strengths: Plot, characters, language
Weaknesses: Loose ends
Speculative fiction is really one of my favorite genres to read, and I waited quite a while to borrow this book from the library to read on my kindle. The wait was worth it!
The book is mostly about the Traveling Symphony, a group of actors and musicians who travel around what used to be Michigan 20 years after 99.96% of the population of the world is destroyed by the Georgia Flu and its aftereffects. How does the world look without electricity, running water, or any consistently organized civilization? A few of the older members of the group remember and reminisce from time to time.
This story alternates with the stories of a few characters at the beginning of the flu pandemic. The start of the pandemic in North America is told from the perspective of a paramedic-in-training who attempts to save the life of an actor who has a heart attack and dies on stage. In a six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon sort of way, many of the story's characters have a link with Arthur Leander, the actor who dies before anyone knows the flu is going to decimate the population.
I really enjoyed the characters and their links to Arthur and the theater group he was performing King Lear with on that fateful night. It was easy to empahize with Kirsten (a young performer that night, and then a member of the long-running Traveling Symphony), Clark (one of Arthur's friends from his early college years, who ends up stranded with Arthur's second wife and son for years), and Jeevan (the audience member who performed CPR on Arthur until a doctor took over).
The other commonality that tied them all together was the source of the title of the book. Station Eleven was a comic book written by Arthur's first wife, then shared with his son, and young Kirsten from the play's cast. Station Eleven was a space station with inhabitants surviving without all the conveniences they were used to from earth. In their post-apocalyptic travels, anyone with memories from before is missing what they were used to from earth.
Overall, I'm so glad I finally got a chance to read this book. The language flowed so beautifully and the stories from each of the characters were touching and believeable. I'd give this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who enjoys speculative/dystopian fiction.