I was going to title this week’s blog post Too Much Repetition, as it is the fourth or fifth weekly post in a row with Too Much starting the title. Then I was going to be done. Then I got sick. Over Spring Break. When I was sick, I read a book. I realized I should share that book with you. And once I thought about that I knew I should share other really cool apocalyptic books. So, this will be the last week with a blog title beginning with Too Much. For now anyway.
Over the next several weeks I will give you my
Five Six Significant recommendations for great Apocalyptic Fiction. I want to start off with the one that kept my sick self up way past my bed-time this week. That book is getting a lot of really good press.
The book: Station Eleven. The author: Emily St. John Mandel. Who is really cool as she tweeted me back!
Rating: Four and a half stars. Not perfect, but most excellent.
This is the best book I have read since The Road and it has a lot in common. The best parts were the recent events set twenty years into the apocalypse. The writing is stellar, the plotting excellent. By the time I got to the 2/3 point I couldn’t put it down literally. I made the mistake of picking it up at bed-time, expecting to read a chapter and put it down like I had been doing the previous days. But, no, I read until I was through. All the way to the end. 1:23 a.m. It’s been a long time since a book did that to me.
As a Shakespearean actor and a musician, I knew I had to read this book that combines those two elements into a realistic apocalypse. I loved the troupes interactions, the history both told and implied, the irony of actors walking down roads fully-armed and ready to kill.
The characters are wonderfully fleshed out and interconnected. I could have used a bit more of an insight into the antagonist and his transformation, but there was enough.
I also loved the element of contrasting small-town British Columbia with Toronto. Touring the Great Lakes also felt accurate. The settings were just fleshy enough to place me there without being too detailed.
The main reasons I took off half a star were a few unrealistic apocalyptic circumstances, predictability, and a mid-book slump as we focused on the past. I think some of the jumps to before the pandemic could have been tightened and found myself skimming through them more than once.
Biggest thing that pulled me out of the book related to the immediate post-pandemic situations. If 99% of your population dies suddenly there should be 5-10 years of canned goods in any major city. There would probably be hoarders and power struggles, but there would not need to be starvation. Gasoline/fuel: again you have a much smaller population, hence these things should last longer. It also seemed unlikely to me that alternative sources of power, solar, bio-diesel, ethanol would not have been utilized to continue travel. The blind musician who hadn’t found a replacement set of glasses despite traveling wide? How many pairs of glasses are there in the world? Some of these things may have been choices to show the darkness taking over the world, but they hung me up early on.
By the time I got to the last third, however, it didn’t matter. Ms. St.John Mandel had me hook, line and sinker. All the characters and all the timelines finally intersected with a satisfying clunk and an element of optimism. Some nice use of metaphors, especially some of the positives and negatives of light.
I recommend this book to practically anyone, though it does have more of a literary feel, nice, chewy language, and not a page turner at first.
Try it here: www.emilymandel.com
Next week I’ll give you another apocalyptic review…