Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

This is a post-apocalyptic novel without zombies. We begin in the normal world (well, sort of, Canada) and then everyone gets a terrible strain of flu except a lucky few who manage to hide away.

The book flashes forward and back between the post-apocalyptic world (well, America) and the world we all live in right now. The idea of this is to link some of the survivors with a famous actor who died on the night that the pandemic arrived in Toronto, where the story begins. Much of the post-apocalyptic story centres around a travelling group of actors and musicians, whose motto is “survival is insufficient” (taken from Star Trek, of all things). I suppose the author is trying to show the importance of art in our lives, and how humans will always need culture and entertainment and beauty. There might also be something in there about the culture of celebrity, with the (rather dull and a bit too long) flashbacks to the famous actor and his family.

I enjoyed the portrait of the post-apocalyptic world. There were people who travelled, and people who stayed in one place. Over the twenty years after the flu a little civilisation evolved, with settlements developing certain things that we associate with the civilised world. I did not really see a great need for such detail on the flashbacks and the “Station Eleven” in question, I would have preferred more pages to be set after the apocalypse.

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