The story starts with the death of an actor, who dies on stage after a heart attack. Three weeks later, most of those involved in the play die from the “Georgia Flu,” as does most of the world’s population. Years later, a group of traveling actors known as the Traveling Symphony roams the Great Lakes area. The book switches between timelines, from the early days of the actor who died on stage to fifteen years later. Mandel tells the story of how the fates of five different characters intertwine together in the past, present, and future.
If you’re looking for a quick recommendation, yes, I would definitely recommend this book!
If you’re looking for a more “grown-up” dystopian novel, this might be right up your alley. The story doesn’t focus on how the world crumbled or the terrible living conditions after society collapsed. But instead, it focuses on how humanity must strive for more than survival, even in the direst circumstances.
It’s isn’t enough to just survive if there is to be hope for a brighter future. Thus, the Traveling Symphony. They bring life to the small groups of survivors of the Georgia Flu. The story can be tricky, as there are many characters to keep track of. The five main characters are the actor who dies at the beginning, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony. This is the only problem I had with the book.
I’m usually pretty good at keeping track of changing timelines and various characters, but there were a few too many changes and far too many characters. I had trouble keeping up with everything and I often found myself confused, and I had to go back several pages to remember what was happening. This frustrated me, as it took me out of the story, and I was unable to lose myself in the setting.
I’d also label it as an “artsy” book. Yes, we need the creative things in life to strive for more than just survival, but we also need practical things, such as food and shelter, in order to enjoy the creative things. There were definitely times when situations seemed impractical, and I was once again removed from the story. It isn’t as exciting as most other apocalyptic novels, but there were storylines that were exciting. In the end, we see where bands of survivors use electricity again. A sure sign that civilization is starting to regain ground. There is hope for the future.
Overall, I would recommend this to a busy mom, but only if you want a challenge in terms of storylines. There are lots of characters and timelines to keep track of and it can be difficult. But if you’re looking for a dystopian novel that doesn’t have zombies and seems a bit more hopeful than other apocalyptic novels out there, I say go for it!
Four out of five stars
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If you enjoyed my review of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, you might also like How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. Check out my review!
If you’re interested in purchasing Station Eleven, here are some quick links to buy the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And, if you’re interested to see what others think, here’s the link to the book on Goodreads.