C. G. McGinn

Writer

Ramblings about Books and Writing

Filtering by Tag: the Passage

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.

The Passage Trilogy

If you're looking for a different kind of horror story, then I recommend, The Passage, by Justin Cronin. It's a novel about vampires, but it's unlike anything pertaining to vampires that you've ever read before. This isn't Bram Stoker and this certainly isn't Ann Rice. And though there is a supernatural element to the story, it surprisingly doesn't have anything to do with the traditional vampire mythos.

The Passage uses science fiction as a sub-genre quite well One example was how the vampires, or 'virals' are brought into this world--through a secret military project conducted on American soil. It's very much like the start of a good Resident Evil game, complete with things going horribly, horribly wrong.

But there's more to The Passage than vampires. Cronin is at his best with the development of both his characters and the world he's created for them. This is a world that pokes at the edges of our own--albeit, a world that has seen better days. Hurricane Katrina has happened in Cronin's world, and it was quickly followed-up by a second hurricane that left the Louisiana coast all but uninhabitable. The children of our current politicians are now running the show, and doing just about as well as their predecessors. These details give the reader a sense of inclusion, which make the unfolding events much more horrifying.

Characters are expendable, but not in the way George RR Martin would carelessly kill-off someone. There's an actual sense of life to Cronin's characters. It's almost as if the story were a simulation of life happening during this horrible event, yet there is still room for heroes to emerge.

The Passage by itself is an epic book. There's a lot in here and it's well worth reading. It's also the first in a trilogy. The Twelve and The City of Mirrors continue the journey where The Passage left us. I really enjoyed getting lost in this world--though at times it proved to be quite sad, and often frustrating. By the end I was left with a peaceful sense of closure.

I added The Passage to the Reading List section of this website, though I could very easily put the entire trilogy in there. I'm just too lazy to spend that much time web designing.

Speaking of the Reading List, go check it out. It's like a blog post, only much much shorter. These are all books I've read and have covered in the blog. But unlike the blog, these are books that stand out as true favorites of mine. I've included the synopsis from Amazon and my own thoughts on the book. If you're interested in buying the book, simply click on the book cover and you'll be magically whisked away to Amazon--or the amazon...I can't remember which. Doing so will also help support this very website.