Twists of Fate

New York Times Bestseller tells the story of five people as they navigate a world without people.

articleSurvival is insufficient.

That’s the motto of the Traveling Symphony in Emily St. John Mandel’s new novel “Station Eleven.”

The book explores what it takes to keep living when life as we know it has ended. It tells three stories at once: before, during and after the end of the world. In this case, the apocalypse comes in the form of a fast-moving flu epidemic that wipes out nearly 99 percent of the world’s population.

Those who are left must rewrite civilization. They live among the ghostly shells of rusted out cars and abandoned buildings, relics of an easier time that won’t come back.

The Traveling Symphony wanders this ruined world as a ragtag caravan of actors and musicians. They go from one encampment to the next performing Shakespeare plays and classical music, but their innocent mission isn’t easy.

The world after the end is full of false prophets and hidden demons, and trust may have only existed in the past.

The book wanders through time like memory, fading in and out of the past and present. There is the petty drama of life before the end, which seems so real and important but is silly in the context of this post-flu world.

It’s a powerful perspective that can make the reader think differently about the world he or she lives.

“If hell is other people, what is a world with almost no people in it?” one character wonders. In “Station Eleven,” it’s a terrifying but beautiful place.


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