Summer is officially over here: we got snow today. It didn’t stick and it was more a “wintry mix”, but it is freezing cold. Sigh. Winter is always such a hard time for me, especially being in Utah. I don’t ski, so the snow really doesn’t do much for me. Winters are very long and very depressing. It’s a hard time of year. While I am enjoying the fall weather, I am already anticipating and dreading the winter.
So. This week’s book is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It is, shockingly, dystopian/science fiction. It seems like almost everything I’ve been reading lately has some sort of dystopian element.
The book is circular in nature; most of the main characters have some sort of bond (even if they don’t realize it), and the plot lines circle back to each other. And, it seems, everything has a purpose.
The story opens on production of King Lear, and the principal actor collapses and dies onstage. Shortly after the commotion of the actor’s death, an EMT who was present at the scene receives a phone call from a doctor friend who tells him to get out of the city; there is a huge flu epidemic that is killing everyone.
The book then forwards twenty years to a traveling acting troupe who stumbles upon a violent religious cult, with a polygamous prophet at its head who demands perfect obedience or dire consequences. Kirsten is a member of the acting troupe; she was also a child actor on stage with the actor who died of a heart attack.
The book shifts from Jeevan, the EMT, and his story in Year Zero, and Kirsten’s story twenty years later. While like all dystopian novels it shows the craziness that exists when society breaks down, it also shows the resourcefulness of the human spirit, a sense of community that we all have, and hope for the future. Hope that we can figure it all out and ultimately be okay. There is also good (Kirsten and her troupe) vs. evil (crazy prophet), and all that good stuff.
I’m not trying to make light of the novel; it is actually very good and well-written. I enjoyed it more than I usually do dystopia. I loved the traveling acting troupe–it showed that even at our lowest form of society, humans still need and appreciate culture. The characters are deep and developed, making it very easy to like them and want to be a part of their story.
And apparently it’s going to made into a movie soon, so you know if a book is any good, they’ll make it into a mini-series or movie!
Next week’s book: American Gods by Neil Gaiman