Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I remember seeing Station Eleven in bookstores everywhere when it came out five years ago. I never picked it up because I didn’t read many adult books at the time, but I decided to come back to it this summer after hearing about its upcoming miniseries adaptation. I’m so glad I did because Station Eleven has quickly become one of my favorite reads of the summer, if not the year.

Station Eleven brilliantly taps into an existential dread I haven’t been able to get out of my head since reading. It follows three storylines: One about ex-wives and friends of a famous actor years before the apocalypse, one about a paparazzi-turned-paramedic during the apocalypse, and one about a former child actor twenty years after the event. Each story is extricably connected to the actor Arthur Leander, whose legacy ripples throughout the novel in constantly surprising ways. However, despite Mandel’s deft handle on plot, her writing is what I found most compelling.

I read a seemingly endless stream of apocalyptic stories when I was thirteen, but none has resonated with me the way Station Eleven has. Beginning with a quote from Star Trek that serves as the motto for a traveling Shakespeare company post-apocalypse, “Survival is insufficient”

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