Very glad I took time to read the reviews before buying into HBO so I could watch the new TV movie about Station Eleven. About, I say, because the reviews make it plain that the novel has been adapted. Not adhered to. Can’t say I care to find out just how adapted. I was hoping for a retelling in visuals. No such luck.
I don’t usually read dystopian fiction. I can see the appeal and understand why it’s popular, but I don’t need the depressive (and usually far too cynical) view of humanity-under-siege.
Emily St. John Mandel’s dystopian novel “Station Eleven,” is different. Not only because of her beautiful writing and character development, but because despite the collapse-of-civilization theme, her view of people (the bad as well as the good) and her overall story actually are hopeful.
For the survivors, that is. The few left after a believable, airborne pandemic (no, it’s not ebola) kills most of the world’s population in a matter of weeks. Which takes down the electric and transportation grids, the Internet and smart phones, along with just about everything else. Very thought-provoking.
The novel ends with a vision of ships at sea. I prefer to think of one of the story’s main characters, the Traveling Symphony moving on, ever in search of audiences, rosin and bow hair. (Not to mention new strings.)
I also liked Mandel’s first novel, Last Night in Montreal, for similar reasons and her third one The Lola Quartet. though both involve parents who ignore their children. None of it is light-reading, in other words. The tragedy-of-life theme the litterateurs love so much. It’s nevertheless good stuff you should try.
But start with Station Eleven.