Events revolve around a near future pandemic that wipes out 99% of the population. We read about characters, before, during and after the outbreak. Its a dystopian novel, but no zombies populate this world, nor is there any future civilisation that requires it’s youth to fight to the death, or be separated along factions. We focus instead on a small group of characters that are part of a troupe called the ‘Travelling Symphony’. The author draws a thread from pre-pandemic days through to ‘year 20’ when we find the Travelling Symphony.
The pleasure from reading Station Eleven comes from the writing as much as the premise. Its a essentially a hopeful story, wIth some gorgeous passages. It reminds us of the beauty found in every day items. The symphony perform Shakespeare because people want to remember the best of what was before. Having said that, there are many passages that remind us of the things we take for granted, the under appreciated beauty of modern life, including a Museum of Civilization. There is an underlying sadness throughout though, perhaps captured by Kirsten’s line that ‘The More you remember, the more you’ve lost’. One of my own particular favourite passages is the untouched house.
There are no rampaging baddies (although a baddy does emerge and there are passing references to ‘ferals’). We don’t have any detail of the suffering that surviviors went through. Instead we get a sense of lonliness, of distance, of people surviving and learning to live in the world they have inherited, but who are basically doing ok.
I loved this book, and I know it appeared on many end of year ‘best of’ lists for 2014. It is certainly an early candidate for my own read of the year for 2015, and a book I’ll be reccommending and passing on to friends.