My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was initially hesitant to pick this up, based on the fact that everyone I’d heard (read) talking about it mentioned that it was about a Shakespeare troupe before anything else. I worried at first that one would need to love Shakespeare, or old stuffy literature of some sort, to get the characters. I’m generally not into theater, or old literature, so I was worried this one might not be for me.
Fear not! The Shakespeare thing is actually a pretty charming, not-too-emphasized character quirk of the troupe. The characters actually have a discussion about why they do Shakespeare all the time, drawing parallels between the world they live in and the one in which Shakespeare lived. If you’re like me, and not super into the guy, don’t let that turn you off from this book.
The book emphasizes the human side of disaster. Everyone reacted to the world-changing flu in different ways. And Emily St. John Mandel does a beautiful job weaving together a beautiful web of a story, connecting a group of people across years and worlds, showing how the illness affected them all in different ways.
Many post-apocalyptic tales get too hung up on the mechanics of the apocalypse. This was not the case. Even in discussing survival details, the author shows the characters’ human sides. Survivors deal with the disaster in different ways – some connect, some protect, and some rely on faith.
I don’t give out many five-star reviews. Most good books rate 4 stars for me; I try to save that five-star benchmark for the truly remarkable stories. This was one of those books. I loved it. SOLID back story and character development, BEAUTIFUL weaving of chronology. The achronological format reveals each connecting detail at exactly the right time, resulting in satisfying “a-ha” moments and real feels. A+, would recommend.