Station Eleven

For Kirsten Raymonde, Shakespeare came before and after the end of the world. At eight years old, she played an hallucination in a stage production of King Lear starring middle-aged film star Arthur Leander. As an adult, she portrays Cordelia, Titania and others for the Traveling Symphony, an orchestra and Shakespearean theater company touring the wasteland of the former United States under the banner of a Star Trek: Voyager quote: "Survival is insufficient." Twenty years after a virus wiped out so much of the human population that no statisticians were left to tally the damage, many comforts are relics of a lost past: electricity, medicine, digital technology, automobiles. The Traveling Symphony offers cultural enrichment in exchange for food and shelter in loosely governed towns. In one such place, the company meets a dangerous cult leader known as the Prophet and his rabidly loyal followers. When the performers inadvertently attract the Prophet's wrath, they struggle to escape. Their intended destination, an airport rumored to hold a Museum of Civilization, may also hold the key to the Prophet's true identity--and link directly back to Arthur Leander, whose rise to fame, fortune and regret is told in interludes between pieces of the Symphony's story.

Emily St. John Mandel (The Lola Quartet) uses the before-and-after timeline to place modern life under a microscope while painting an unromantic vision of a future without modern advancements. Humanity here is neither blameless nor in control: the collapse snuck up on them. Incisive, suspenseful and peopled with meticulously detailed characters, this stunner will leave readers prickling with dread but also breathless with wonder. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Powered by: Xtenit