"Because survival is insufficient."
So proclaims the tattoo on Kirsten Raymonde's arm, as she works with The Traveling Symphony, more than ten years after almost 99% of the world succumbed to a deady flu outbreak. Traveling with her fellow actors and musicians to ensure that the arts never die, Kirsten becomes one of the key figures to the description of life after.
Kirsten Raymonde once performed on stage with a famous actor from Hollywood, Arthur Leander, when she was a child. Her most vivid memory of life before is the night he died onstage of a massive heart attack. Jeevan, once a member of the paparazzi and now an EMT, rushes onstage to try to bring Arthur back to life, and Clark, an old friend of Arthur's, is the one who calls Miranda to tell her the news. Miranda, a high-powered executive in the shipping world and one of Arthur's ex-wives, is on the other side of the world, successful in both her career and in her ongoing hobby of drawing and writing her graphic novel Doctor Eleven, full of imagination and adventure in an otherworld known as the "Undersea." That very same night, a deadly flu outbreak quickly tore through civilization, frightening viewers watching the news and eventually killing nearly everyone on earth.Within a few weeks, the once beautiful life of civilization and law and order was over.
Alternating between the years after devastation and the years before, Emily St. John Mandel's delicately detailed design of life is incredibly vivid. Focused on a few key characters, the descriptions of the flu, the desolation following it, and how survivors crafted solutions to maintain life is brilliant. And my favorite character, Miranda, and her ongoing project of Doctor Eleven, was fantastic. I am thrilled to hear that the author is working on bringing Doctor Eleven truly into the graphic novel arena. I'll certainly be first in line to check that out.
Post-apocalyptic fiction for die-hard fans can be very specific, and for me, Station Eleven was divinely sad, thoughtful, and has easily secured its place on my own personal "Best Books Read in 2015."
Kirsten Potter, the narrator, fit perfectly. Her voice smoothly fit into each of the characters well and I enjoyed listening to her tell me the story. I don't believe I've listened to her before. That can always be a little scary, trusting a voice you've never listened to before tell you a story, but Potter was exceptional. I'll look for more from her again.
We are all connected, whether by a tiny thread or stronger, but somehow, the link is undeniable. And in Station Eleven, the characters are tied together so delicately that it is incredible how Emily St. John Mandel has delightfully woven them through into an incredible adventure of lives lived after everything we've ever always trusted and believed would never change has now broken down.
FTC Disclosure: I downloaded this audiobook through my membership from Audible.com
About the Author (from her website)
Emily St. John Mandel is the author of four novels, most recently Station Eleven, which was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, and won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award. A previous novel, The Singer's Gun, was the 2014 winner of the Prix Mystere de la Critique in France. Her short fiction and essays have been anthologized in numerous collections, including Best American Mystery Stories 2013. She is a staff writer for The Millions. She lives in New York City with her husband.
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