Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This tale is mild. It's the first thing that comes to my mind.
Almost all of the potential and possibly striking conflicts are glossed over or avoided entirely, given up in favor of character study and an exploration of memory; its faults and its joys. This is also what sets the novel apart from so many other dystopian SF, but unfortunately for me, I still would have enjoyed a bit of the grit.
Fortunately for us, the readers, the novel is first and foremost character driven. Plot is not even remotely necessary, and the shifting between two different time periods only serves to aggrandize the meta-theme of art and how important it is, not only for survival, but also for defining what it means to be human, no matter what your circumstances.
I can get behind that.
Unfortunately, I'm spoiled by my memory of such novels such as Lucifer's Hammer by Niven and Pournelle, and especially the harrowing quest to save as many books as possible before the big splash. The later sacrifice in that novel by the one man who held the knowledge still reverberates with me.
But then, that was all about saving science, and not so much with saving art. Perhaps what I really wanted was a powerful novel with a focus on the deepest desires of art and fame. This novel was good, it just wasn't the type of novel that grabs me by my shirt and screams in my face that it is THE novel to inspire. I liked it. It just didn't wow me.
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