As Arthur Leander, once famous, now somewhat fading actor is having a heart attack on stage during his final performance, the Georgian Flu is spreading at a rapid rate, killing nearly everyone in its wake. Young Kirsten watches from backstage as Arthur falls, deeply impacted by his life and story. Twenty years later, Kirsten is a survivor, part of the post-flu world that has come to be. She travels by foot and make-shift caravan around what was once the state of Michigan as part of a traveling Shakespeare company, setting up camp in various settlements to give performances and then moving on to new locations. In a non-chronological series of pre- and post-pandemic scenes, the people connected to Arthur Leander's life, including Kirsten, multiple ex-wives, and his best friend, Clark, reveal how the flu changed the world, how life came to be as it is Twenty Years After, and how Arthur somehow managed to have a lasting impact on each of them.
Why It's Worth Reading:
I'm definitely at the back of the pack when it comes to this novel. It was heavily publicized and read last year as part of the National Book Award and Michigan Notable Books programs. It has circulated through the classrooms and staff of Novi High School with enthusiastic recommendations. Superintendent, Dr. Matthews, even recommended it to some of our students as one of his recent favorite books. That being said, now that I've finally jumped on the Station Eleven bandwagon, I must review and recommend it highly. It's one of the best books I've read in a while. I could recommend it to adults and students alike. It's a post-apocalyptic story that takes the concept of life after our present, modern world it to a new level. If you've found yourself to be a fan of the bevy of YA dystopian lit. on the market, and want to expand your horizons, Station Eleven would be the perfect place to start. It's got similar themes, but the maturity of the story, the depth of the impact of the flu, goes beyond heroes vs. villains and complex government conspiracies. My favorite part - for a book that has such a serious, even depressing, premise, I found this book to incredibly hopeful. The motto of the traveling theater troupe says it all: "Survival is insufficient." If you're looking for a beautifully-written, captivating read full of well-drawn characters or if you're just trying to branch out from The Hunger Games, try Station Eleven. I'm deeply glad that I did.
Publication Date: January 1, 2014
Awards: Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel 2015, National Book Award Finalist 2015, Michigan Notable Book 2015
Source: Mrs. Maguire (She has a set of 15 that she received as part of a small grant. I'm sure she'd be happy to loan one if our library copies are checked out.)
Do We Own a Copy?: Several copies are on order!