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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Improbably Satisfying

Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel

The premise of Station Eleven is that a new strain of flu has wiped out over ninety percent of the Earth's population and civilization has collapsed. The era of electricity is over and  humanity is limited to a string of small settlements camping amid the ruins of the old world. A group of musicians and actors calling itself The Travelling Symphony journeys between those settlements in a collection of horse-drawn vehicles, putting on performances of King Lear and Beethoven.

 

It sounds like a fairly routine disaster story but actually this is much more than that. The storyline weaves back and forth between the past and the present as the characters come to terms with memory and loss and try to make sense of the new world and the changed expectations in which they find themselves dwelling.

 

This is primarily a study in characters rather than a plot-based novel. It's about the effect we have on each other, the overwhelming compulsion to find significance and the power of art to crystallise experience.

 

Entertaining, thought-provoking and improbably satisfying.