It is such a strange week this week. Meg and Clare are in school, though it is a mix of half-days and full-days. Anne has not begun preschool yet. She is still sleeping late in the morning and has added to that moping around the house until her sisters come home from school. After I finally got her moving today, she decided we needed to go on an adventure and dressed in her most creative adventure outfit. Our adventure consisted of me walking her around our neighborhood in her wagon while she came up with an imaginary story about finding our cabin.
I’ve been trying to write a review of my favorite vacation read this summer, but I have been having technical difficulties. The words of my post have been been deleted twice (with only a picture of the book remaining) when I tried to post it. This time I’m writing it in a separate document so I can cut and paste and hopefully not lose my text.
Now to the book. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel was the most wonderful surprise for me. The book is very much in the dystopia genre and I am not usually a fan of dystopia. That is my husband’s genre. In Station Eleven, a flu epidemic has killed 99 percent of the world’s population. In the aftermath of the epidemic, a traveling symphony forms and performs music and Shakespeare plays for makeshift towns that have formed. The traveling symphony undoubtedly faces many of the difficulties one would expect in a post-apocalyptic world--including a homicidal prophet who preaches that the flu was God’s wrath on the world. However, the traveling symphony faces these obstacles with the belief that “survival is insufficient”--a motto they have taken from Star Trek:Voyager. This troupe of artists believes that humankind needs beauty as well as the basics as food, shelter and medicine to truly live.
Perhaps unfairly and inaccurately, I have always associated dystopia with hopelessness. Station Eleven broke that stereotype. It is a novel full of hope. Humankind has faced near annihilation and, not only survives, but is learning to live well again.
I highly recommend Station Eleven. It is a beautifully written novel. The story takes place in the years preceding the epidemic, at the time of the epidemic, and in the years following the epidemic. These time periods are woven together throughout the book, rather than the story being told chronologically, with characters in the various time periods being connected through an actor who dies just before the epidemic occurs. The title, Station Eleven, refers to a graphic novel being created by one of the characters prior to the epidemic that unknowingly mirrors the post-apocalyptic world. This novel is beautifully crafted and deserves its status as a National Book Award Finalist.