Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Review: Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel

I'll hold my hands up here - it was the cover that grabbed me. As for the story... Station Eleven is The Stand for the Twitter generation.

When a novel starts with a virus bringing civilisation to its knees, it's hard not to make a comparison - and the similarity doesn't end there.

Station Eleven follows the trail of the Travelling Symphony, a small troupe travelling the land fifteen years after society's collapse, performing music and Shakespeare to scattered, surviving towns. Having left two of their group behind, they return to that same town to find the place overrun and under the violent control of the self proclaimed Prophet. Later, discovering a stowaway, they realise The Prophet is going to make sure to hunt them down and take back what is his.

The Prophet certainly comes across similar to Randall Flagg in The Stand, and I could feel the tension building towards a major confrontation. Unfortunately, the showdown was a let down and over far too quickly.

That aside, I do think Station Eleven is worth a read. The who POV of the book is quite refreshing and I love the idea that in a post apocalyptic world, there will still be people who see the value in entertainment. The troupe's caravan has a quote, taken from Star Trek, emblazoned on its side: "Because survival is insufficient."

It's an entertaining, quite mesmerising novel, and despite not being generally recognised as horror, Station Eleven made the shortlist for the 2015 August Derleth Award.

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