When the Station Eleven novel by Emily St. John Mandel was published in 2014, it quickly became a sensation. The science-fiction masterpiece took home the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award and earned a National Book Award nomination. The book sold over 1.5 million copies and Mandel gained a cult-like following where fans actually tattooed prose from the novel their body. When we found out that HBO was turning this beautiful piece of literature into a ten-episode limited series we wondered what took them so long. Here are a few key differences between the screen adaption of Station Eleven and the actual novel.
1. Jeevan Has A Bigger Role
The opening scene of the first episode seems to be promising to fans of the novel who were hoping that the series didn’t stray too far from the original storyline. In the HBO production, the first episode opens during a stage play. Arthur Leander has a heart attack on stage and Jeevan a journalist in the audience runs onto the stage to help him. In the novel, Jeevan is introduced as a former entertainment journalist that’s now in paramedic training school. On the show, Jeevan doesn’t have any prior medical training. In fact, he calls out for a doctor to provide medical attention to the actor. In the book, Jeevan had previously met Arthur Leander and his wife during his brief stint as a paparazzi. On the show, Arthur and Jeevan don’t know each other from a can of paint. Jeevan tried to save his life because it seemed like the right thing to do. In the screen adaption, Jeevan has a much bigger role. In the novel, Jeevan helps eight-year-old Kirsten find her wrangler and then skirts off to his brother’s skyrise apartment never to be seen again. As you know in the HBO series, Jeevan becomes Kirsten’s protector after her parents and brother die during the flu outbreak. They spend a year together before they are separated. Jeevan becomes a small-town doctor in Virginia while Kirsten falls in line with the Traveling Symphony, a nomadic group of actors and singers that bring joy to different towns by putting don’t theatrical performances.
2. Miranda and Arthur’s Backstory
Readers of the best-selling novel will remember that Miranda and Arthur grew up on the same British Columbian island. Miranda and Arthur were set up by their mothers. At the time, Miranda was a teenager and had just moved to Toronto. Arthur in his early thirties was already a famous actor. They became really good friends. After Miranda broke up with her no-good boyfriend her friendship with Arthur became romantic. On the show, Miranda and Arthur met at a local Chicago diner. They locked eyes with each other and the rest was history.
3. The Prophet Situation Greatly Differs
In both the novel and the series we meet Arthur Leander’s son Tyler with his second wife Elizabeth at Severn City airport where the survivors of the pandemic transform the building into a community. Readers can recall that in the novel, Tyler believes that the people that survived the flu were chosen by God. Tyler and Elizabeth leave the confines of the airport and create their own cult-like community in St. Deborah. As an adult, everyone knows that Tyler is the Prophet. He takes child brides and when the Traveling Symphony visits to perform he asks for permission to marry teenage Alex. In episode two of the HBO series, we meet David, a mysterious creep who tries to manipulate his way into the Traveling Symphony. Kirsten perceives that he is a threat to her crew and she stabs and leaves him to bleed out. In episode 4 we found that David survived and that he’s the Prophet. The Prophet believes that the post-pandemic people which are mostly children are special because they were born free of the traumatic experiences that survivors of the pandemic experienced. Therefore, The Prophet lures the children away from their families and they become his personal army. Eventually, we learn that The Prophet is Tyler and he’s been living on his own since a child after faking his death at the airport.
4. The Series Ends With A Beautiful Reunion
The novel concludes at the Museum of Civilization where Kirsten goes in search of two missing members of the Traveling Symphony. The Prophet is dead and now that the story ends with safety and peace being restored to all the towns in the area. In the show, Kirsten and the Traveling Symphony end up are invited to perform at the Museum of Civilization. Tyler (The Prophet) infiltrates Severn City Airport as an actor part of the Traveling Symphony. Tyler reconciles with his past and reunites with Elizabeth who thought he was dead. Kirsten and Jeevan also have an emotional reunion and she promises to visit with the Traveling Symphony.