Hey y’all. I have another book review for you today. I wasn’t going to put this as it’s own post but I cannot stop thinking about this book. I am sort of in a place where I know I will be going over this in my mind for a while and so to that end, I am putting these thoughts to words here- in case you were debating on reading it… Read this.
Emily St. John Mandel
Knopf, 2014, 352 pages
Opening Line(s) of the Book:
The King stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored. This was act 4 of King Lear, a winter night at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto.
Not too gripping, right?
Well, read on. These first few lines are just setting the stage (sorry, not sorry for the pun) for the rest of the book. Going back and forth through time, the book begins with a major event one night in Toronto which sets in place a series of events that change life as we know it, into one where only a few survive and these survivors try to find a way to survive and also live in this new world.
The life of Arthur Leander, a famous actor, sets the backdrop for the story. As his life unfolds, so does the scenery, the characters, and the story. It’s a doomsday book, with an upside. It doesn’t leave us hanging at the end- it finishes. It wraps up nicely in a way that left me feeling more reflective and satisfied that I greatly benefited from reading this book. Yes. A reading win.
I loved the subtley of this book- there is no horribly grizzly scene of the world’s end.The collapse of the world is fast. So fast that it is surprising- but it is quiet. People just disappear and there is no way to contact them- The internet, electricity, vehicles don’t work anymore and become after time, a thing of only memory; memories are hard to come by with so many dead. The value of keeping the history alive and teaching what was to the children and other survivors is a theme. The book’s Museum of Civilization is seemingly a museum of just things: a high heel, a driver’s license, a comic book. But the importance of these things, and of the preservation of them is so…well, librarian…so basic to my values of remembering our history and artifacts, that I totally loved this idea within the book.
The author has such a knack for depicting a futuristic view without making it a science-fiction future that we can’t imagine. Her devastating future is tangible. We can see how it could happen- making it the scariest book that I’ve read in a while.
“Survival is insufficient.”
Depicted as a tattoo and also painted on the lead caravan of the nomads, it’s a line from Star Trek: Voyager (Sept. 1999, Ronald D. Moore). I love it, because A) I love that it’s from Star Trek- the most well known sci-fi world that we have had the pleasure of experiencing both on TV and in comic book form- but also B) I love the words themselves: Reminding us to LIVE. Not just survive. Notice. Experience. Do. Be. But also, of course, stay alive.'Survival is insufficient.' Reminding us to LIVE. Not just survive. Notice. Experience. Do. Be. Click To Tweet
“Are you asking if I believe in ghosts?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. Yes.”
“Of course not. Imagine how many there’d be.”
“Yes,” Kirsten said, “that’s exactly it.”
Touching on what happens after doomsday event…I am so glad the book addresses how blindly we would follow…or who we’d follow…or what we’d believe if only to find the familiar. Good questions here.
I loved it, obviously, and highly recommend, and not only for science fiction lovers. If you love history or present day contemporary fiction, I think you would appreciate the currency of this novel- it is so full of imagination, but also grounded by our very real lives today.
The rest of my nightstand is atrocious! I have at least 10 books on there and the pile is just growing. Why? I have time. I have no idea why my progress is so slow, but then, it’s not a race is it? No. Quality, not quantity, my friends.