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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, September 2014 - Station Eleven may take place during the end of civilization, but don’t make the mistake of discounting it as just another apocalyptic tale. The narrative shifts between past and present and follows five characters, each connected in some fateful way. We begin on a stage, where a world-famous actor suddenly dies while performing King Lear, and jump to Year 20, where a group known as the Traveling Symphony Orchestra travels between settlements, performing Shakespeare to captivated audiences. The result is a fascinating, suspenseful story that, despite its setting, is anything but bleak. I am eagerly awaiting more from Emily St. John Mandel, and I can’t wait to experience the book again with narration from Kirsten Potter ( If I Stay). —Sam, Audible Editor
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Publisher's Summary

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.
One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur's chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.
Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten's arm is a line from Star Trek: "Because survival is insufficient." But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.
Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.
©2014 Emily St. John Mandel (P)2014 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

"A unique departure from which to examine civilization's wreckage.... [a] wild fusion of celebrity gossip and grim future.... Mandel's examination of the connections between individuals with disparate destinies makes a case for the worth of even a single life." ( Publishers Weekly)
"Following three smart, voicey thrillers published with a small press, Mandel makes the leap … to ambitious, fantastical storytelling." (Boris Kachka, New York magazine)
"[An] ambitious take on a post-apocalyptic world where some strive to preserve art, culture and kindness.... Think of Cormac McCarthy seesawing with Joan Didion.... Mandel spins a satisfying web of coincidence and kismet.... Magnetic.... a breakout novel." ( Kirkus)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By kurdis teed on 03-21-18

Symphonies, Caravans, Comics, and a Plague

Station Eleven is not the typical post-apocalyptic tale. Based on the quality of writing , it is considered "literary." While I didn't find the narrative overly compelling, Emily St. John Mandel does have a knack for descriptive scenes and character development. The author's tale of post-apocalyptic society revolves around a traveling symphony, a migratory convoy performing Shakespeare plays in the remaining small villages of America. The narrator of this audiobook, Kirsten Potter, does a excellent job and keeps the reader/listener engaged through what I consider to be a slow-moving first couple of hours. While most novels of the post-apocalyptic genre focus on the evils the deterioration of modern society must surely bring, Station Eleven focuses more on the hope that not all is lost. While the horrors of civilization's demise certainly occur within in the novel, these horrors are more of a backdrop rather than the focal point of the narrative. Station Eleven is an artistic version of an apocalyptic setting, an above average read for those looking for a change of pace. I was torn between 3 and 4 stars, so I rounded up from 3.75, but 5 stars on the narration.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Stacy on 10-08-14

gah!

I was really into this story-beautifully written, interesting characters- then it just ended.

What the beep?

So I'm left to ponder what happened to all these people, and what was the real point of the book. I get it, I guess, but I seriously had no idea that the book was about to end when the "audible hopes you've enjoyed this program" came on. I wanted more! wahh!

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81 of 94 people found this review helpful

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