Station Eleven is a dystopian novel set in Toronto. There has been an outbreak of the Georgian Flu, which is rapidly spreading throughout the world. St. John Mandel took on the complicated task of weaving together the stories of several people before, during, and after the outbreak. The bulk of this novel follows Kirsten, a young woman who is a member of a traveling orchestra and looking for her best friend Charlie and her family. Charlie was a member of the orchestra, but was pregnant and had to stop traveling briefly for the safety of her family. They had plans to meet in the same village in which they parted, but Charlie and her family are gone when the traveling orchestra returns at their agreed upon time.
Kirsten and her friends quickly realize that the village has dramatically changed since their last visit; people don’t seem as happy and as carefree as they were before. There aren’t children playing in the streets and folks are more bedraggled. A “prophet” has come into town and he’s a pretty scary and threatening guy, but hides under the guise of religion and assuring people that this is all a part of the divine plan.
The book gets its name name from a comic book series, Station Eleven. We learn about the writer before the outbreak, a young struggling artist named Miranda who really only wanted to work on her art. Two copies get into the hands of young children and forms the crux of what brings all of our characters together.
This was not a scary book, but there were some harrowing scenes. As dystopian novels go, this one was low on the violence and fear factor (although not free of either of those themes). It’s a relatively safe book to pick if you’re wanting to explore a dystopian world. It’s well-written and easy to follow despite all of the story lines, which tie together like one neat little bundle at the end. It’s also a great work of literary fiction, as evidenced by the awards and nominations listed below!
Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel (2015), PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Nominee (2015), Sunburst Award Nominee for Adult (2015), John W. Campbell Memorial Award Nominee for Best Novel (2015), British Fantasy Award Nominee for August Derleth Award (best horror novel) (2015) The Rooster – The Morning News Tournament of Books (2015), Toronto Book Award Nominee (2015), The Great Michigan Read (2015), Women’s Prize for Fiction Nominee for Longlist (2015), National Book Award Finalist for Fiction (2014), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction (2014)