Station Eleven, Emily St.John Mandel

‘Hell is the absence of the people you long for.’

Station Eleven is at once devastatingly tragic and surprisingly hopeful. I already know that I’ll think about this book for a long time, and come back to again and again.

The post-apocalyptic novel revolves largely around the life and relations of Arthur Leander, the actor whose sudden on-stage death is the first chapter, preparing us for the speed and ruthlessness of the flu-epidemic that is to follow.

Every single character in this book is meticulously thought through, well-rounded, and entirely believable and engrossing. Finishing this was hard because I didn’t want to leave their lives behind. I can only hope for a sequel, although I’m not sure if it actually needs one (except to satisfy my own desires).

As well as discovering the links between all the characters and Leander, the plot of the novel follows the Travelling Symphony, a nomadic group of musicians and actors, whose existence in this post-epidemic world is to entertain, educate and keep culture and The Arts alive. ‘Survival‘, to the Travelling Symphony, ‘is insufficient’.

Shakespeare, science-fiction graphic novels, affairs, love and death, alongside some of the best and most evocative writing I have ever come across make this book a definite five out of five stars for me.

This has quickly become my new favourite book and I will recommend it to anyone. I’m definitely going to be reading the author’s other novels, and keeping my eyes peeled for anything new from Emily St.John Mandel.