Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel 2015
Five years before COVID19 changed our world, the author wrote a pandemic flu book that makes COVID look like a stroll in the park. A swine flu variant sweeps out of Russia and within weeks, the world is nearly totally depopulated. No planes, cars, or trains move; no electricity, internet, or telephones; no hospitals, doctors, or much of anything else. The survivors find themselves in a world of violence and bare existence. Sounds depressing and who needs more depression these days? But, Mandel has written a fine book with superb characters and a strong story line that jumps back and forth in time. From the onset of the pandemic to the Year 20 when the primary character who was an 8 year old girl in Toronto when the pandemic hit is a member of The Symphony, a group of musicians and actors who travel through western Michigan performing Shakespeare and giving concerts in the far flung tiny towns that house survivors. There’s a very bad guy called The Prophet and lots of violence that keeps one turning the pages. Mandel does an especially good job of tying together multiple characters, story lines, and times, bringing it all together in a powerful and credible conclusion. More of a dystopian, ‘end of the world’ story than a tale of the pandemic itself, this was an excellent read if you want to get away from trump and his madness and retreat into a fictional world that is even worse than ours but which offers hope for a better future. One of my criteria for a ‘good book’ is whether I find myself thinking about the characters, the setting, the outcome, etc for several days after I close the final page, and Station Eleven hit that target on several counts. A Good Read!