ST. CHARLES – For 2008 St. Charles East High School graduate Ellen Castellini, the book "Station Eleven" was a page-turner.
"I loved the way she wove together so many different timelines and characters," Castellini said. "I thought the characters felt real and I just thought it was a wonderful book."
Castellini was one of 170 people who came to the Arcada Theatre on April 29 to hear "Station Eleven" author Emily St. John Mandel discuss the award-winning book, which has been translated into 31 languages.
Mandel was at the Arcada Theatre for the culminating event of the St. Charles Public Library’s One Book, One Community reading experience that took place during the month of April. The novel is set in the Great Lakes region after a fictional swine flu pandemic known as the "Georgia Flu" has devastated the world, killing most of the population.
"I was trying to imagine this world where almost everyone had lost almost everyone and almost everything," Mandel said, in answering questions from St. Charles Public Library reader services librarian Marlise Schiltz.
As she noted, the world in her novel is drastically different from the world we know now.
"We kind of take our interconnectedness with the rest of the world for granted at this point," Mandel said. "It was interesting to think that in this scenario, you wouldn't know what was happening in Chicago, let alone Beijing."
Mandel also took questions from those who attended the event. Castellini asked a question about the book's setting.
"One of the major locations in the book was an airport, and I just thought that was a really interesting place to set a story," Castellini said. "Normally, you're in an airport for two hours tops. She told me that was based off what happened to one of her friends after 9/11."
St. Charles Public Library middle school librarian Darcy Tatlock was on the committee that chose "Station Eleven" for this year's One Book, One Community program.
"I thought I was going to have to fight for it, but everyone loved it," Tatlock said.
She liked the fact that "Station Eleven" is much more hopeful than other post-apocalyptic fiction.
"It didn't make me feel like I need to learn how to harvest corn or cut down trees in order to survive," Tatlock said. "It was more like being able to know that just being around family and loved ones and making a community would be enough to be happy."
She said that committee members appreciated the strong sense of community that is depicted in the book.
"Instead of fighting this outside source, it's about keeping their sanity and happiness by being together," Tatlock said.