C. G. McGinn

Writer

Ramblings about Books and Writing

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is the story about a traveling theater group in the years following the collapse of the civilized world.

The story follows the lives of several characters who are connected in some way or another to one man, a famous Hollywood actor -- Arthur Leander.

This is a story that makes you think long after you've finished reading it. It's been said that the ability to do this makes for a good story and I would have to agree. I got into a lengthy discussion with the librarian who recommended this book to me, over who was the protagonist of the story. There were either many, or one. We couldn't quite decide. All of the main characters have Arthur Leander in common. It could be argued that Leander is the protagonist. However the other characters are the ones doing most of the actions in the story. Any one of them could also be considered a protagonist in their own rite.

It's a tricky story, but somehow it works. It works on a lot of different levels. It still has me thinking, weeks later while I write this entry. This was actually a very difficult entry to write because I could go at it from several different angles and had trouble deciding how to spin it. I chose to go with the character puzzle.

I will also say that the world created in Station Eleven is one of the most believable ones to come out of the post-apocalyptic genre. In a world completely void of a supernatural element -- be it Metro 2033's Librarians and Dark Ones, or the virals of The Passage -- humanity is seen to survive however they can, making due with the shelters left from a fallen civilization, building settlements, and returning to a hunter-gathers society. And coming out from the ashes of popular culture and a keen background in the creative arts, of course we would see a traveling theater, committed to maintaining the Bard's great works.