Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This post-apocalyptic dystopia is terrifying, ghostly, and fascinating. 99% of the world population dies in a rapid, unstoppable flu pandemic, and survivors are left in the ruins of a civilization without electricity or law. It’s like The Walking Dead without the zombies: brutal armed conflicts between untrusting groups of survivors who scavenge necessities from houses guarded by skeletons. I found the descriptions of the rapid deterioration of life as we know it utterly realistic. If there’s a villain, it’s a religious fanatic who calls himself the Prophet, who takes child brides and preaches that those who died of the flu deserved it. The narrative is not chronological, but told in flashes between several characters’ loosely connected lives before, during, and after the pandemic.
This is the kind of book I can’t stop thinking about. The haunted world twenty years after the death of everyone continues to spook me. And yet, the story is not bleak or without hope. The efforts of the survivors to not only cooperate and live, but to find meaning in their altered lives through curating a museum, presenting Shakespeare, making music, writing a newspaper, were inspiring.