Station Eleven is the tale of a group survivors of a flu pandemic that kills 99.9% of the world’s population. The story alternates between the characters’ points of views, covering their lives from ten years before the pandemic to twenty years after. Unbeknownst to the survivors, they are connected by events and people from their pre-pandemic lives.
The book begins with the death of Arthur Leander as he performs King Lear. Paramedic Jeevan Chaudhary tries unsuccessfully to save Arthur’s life. Child actress Kirsten Raymond’s is devastated by Arthur’s death. Arthur’s ex-wife, Miranda Carroll, and his best friend, Clark Thompson, are saddened to hear of his death, but have no time to mourn as the pandemic quickly closes in.
Twenty years later, Kirsten is a Shakespearean actress with the Traveling Symphony, a group of performers on a never-ending tour of the Great Lakes region. The Symphony accidentally angers the Prophet, leader of a doomsday cult, and plans to flee to the Museum of Civilization, where Clark Thompson now lives.
I can understand why so many people loved this book but it missed the mark for me. Part of the problem was that I misunderstood what it was about. I thought the meat of the story would be the Traveling Symphony trying to escape the Prophet. I was expecting a sci-fi thriller. While there are some tense moments and a little bit of mystery, it’s mostly about how people live. Not the day to day part of life, but the big questions of life. Do they run to love or away from it? Do they sleepwalk through their lives or savor every moment? Are they living or just existing?
Overall, the story is interesting and the writing is good. I found some of the point of view changes jarring. I feel like the author could have done a better job transitioning between characters and time periods. The ending was very strong. 3.5 stars.