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I originally heard about this book from a former colleague back when it was first released. She raved about it and said that our town was mentioned in it a few times, a small town in Northern Michigan. How cool is that?! Might not be exciting for some of you, but anyone from a lesser known area probably knows what I mean.
So I purchased the book and placed it on my bookshelf, where it sat for a few years. It recently caught my eye again so I picked it up and re-read the summary. I immediately knew this was my next read because not only was my small town published in permanent ink, but the entire premise of the book is based on a highly contagious flu-like virus ravaging its way through the population. Sound familiar?
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Station Eleven begins at the start of The Georgia Flu as it makes its way around the world with a 99% mortality rate. The incubation period is mere hours. Once you’ve contracted it, there’s no hope of surviving. Yet some people manage to avoid it altogether and are left to deal with what remains of the world. Without electricity, transportation, hospitals, the internet. No civilization whatsoever.
The opening scene blew my mind immediately. There was fast action and adrenaline and a bit of anxiety from the unknown. What’s going to happen? But then almost too soon, the scene switched to the slightly less exciting present day, 20 years after the virus hit. I’m ashamed to admit I was disappointed and worried this would be yet another novel I had to struggle through (because I can’t NOT finish a book).
Luckily the story picked up momentum again, jumping to different points in the timeline, even further back than the virus. There was art and Shakespeare and music, but there was also death and survival and regret. The major themes focused on prioritizing your loved ones over money, possessions, and status. I gobbled up every word and had many “aha!” moments as missing pieces came together.
About 1/4 of the way through I had some doubts and thought perhaps I wouldn’t read another book by Mandel. By the end of the novel, however, I was a complete fan. I think this is one of those books that really touched me at a deeper level and I won’t soon forget it.
Would I watch this movie? Heck yeah.
I give Station Eleven 4 out of 5 stars.