Everyone else has very eloquently summarized the plot of Station Eleven the first hundred times it was reviewed, so I’ll let Goodreads do the heavy lifting here (this is a half joke because I let Goodreads do the heavy lifting a lot of the time even when I’m not the last person in line to review a book):
“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.”
I’m sneaking in under the wire to be able to discuss this with y’all for Cannonball Book Club. Yay! And listen: once someone else starts talking about something, I’ll *probably* be able to chime in with some kind of angle, but I have to say, right now, composing an original review of Station Eleven feels a little like pulling teeth. What is there left to say? I liked it a lot.
The character of Miranda was probably my favorite. What I particularly liked about her sections was that they existed within the pre-apocalyptic microcosm of the world (spoiler alert?) but dealt with extraordinary circumstances of that life, our life, before the pandemic swept through and redefined ‘extraordinary.’ And within her old-world version of extraordinary, she was still relate-able.
Quick question: what happened to Jeevan? Not by the end — in the middle. Jeevan more or less starts the story, earns an interesting backstory and trajectory, and then vanishes for a very long time, until it’s established that he settled with a survivor’s town and acts as their almost-physician. I don’t know; I might be nitpicking. In one sense, his arc was complete, but in another, it seemed like we missed “peak” Jeevan and only saw the front and back ends of his story.
Arthur Leander is a funny linchpin to hang the narrative around. A normal guy turned Hollywood blowhard, he dies again as a normal guy just before the pandemic hits. Everyone else in the story is connected to him, and not just by chance — it’s his actions that drive the connections. So it’s funny; he’s this hand of God that determines how our central characters know and relate to each other, despite being a fairly basic human being (wanted to be famous, became a perfect cliche of fame, realized he hated being famous) and then exits stage left before tragedy strikes.
What else… oh, I don’t know. Like I said, I’m looking forward to book club discussion! I’ll wrap up this silly little review now.