Cloud Atlas


3 stars

Cloud Atlas thrust itself into my life by way of Molly, who happened to blog about the, then upcoming movie and provided me with a YouTube link to the preview. O. M. G! I was sold. I told her so, and, like Molly decided to read the book before I see the movie.

While reading the book, I blogged about my frustrations in the use of English, but I persevered and I’ve finished the book! YAY!

Synopsis: A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan’s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified “dinery server” on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation—the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other’s echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.

In his captivating third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity’s dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.

My thoughts: Read this… but be warned. 524 pages of mind bending fiction.

Where to buy: Amazon on kindle for $12.45

Review: Cloud Atlas should come with a warning.

Editors and those who like clean writing beware: This book contains a multitude of different styles of English. It may make your eyes bleed, your head ache and you wish to punch your inner editor in the head repeatedly until they lay dead.

I struggled immensely with this book. I shouldn’t have. It was a brilliant story.

In it, the characters came to life and ran rampant around in my head, giving my dying inner editor plenty of room, in case they caught her illness. They couldn’t of course. They were immunised against the horrendous-to-read disintegrated English that was used in mini story #6, or the Olde English used in mini story #1.

If I take my inability to stomach some of the writing choices used by David Mitchell, this book would probably be about a 4.5 out of 5. But that would not be a true to me review. It would be accurate in terms of the writing, but not of the readers’ experience.

For some people, this book will not be an issue; if you can read and switch off your inner editor then you’re set for an amusing ride through the time-bending world built in Cloud Atlas. If you can’t, you, like me will probably struggle with it.

It frustrated me more, that David felt the need to incorporate this type of writing. I think the characterisation could have been portrayed in different ways without pissing off some of the reading community. Perhaps it was a challenge to see if he could do it, I don’t know. But it was a decision that changed a very good book to only an ‘ok’ one.

The connection between the mini stories is wide and varied. I liked how each was linked, some more than others, but I thought it was rather ingenious. It showed how good a writer David Mitchell is, his ability to cover a wide variety of times and characters, no matter how different they may be.

I personally highlighted a number of lines/quotes from this book, the writing was excellent. If you’re studying writing and/or trying to work with characterisation, description, or generally dissecting writing, this is a great book for that. I have learnt a lot from David.

If you like the look of the new movie, I think you’ll get a lot from reading the book first. I haven’t seen the movie yet (it’s on my list to do now that I’ve finished the book) but I am unsure how well they could capture the richness that David creates and captures in his writing. Good luck Hollywood you’re going to need it!!

Have you read Cloud Atlas yet? Seen the movie? What did you think?


4 thoughts on “Cloud Atlas

  1. I haven’t seen the movie…I wonder if parts of it end halfway through a scene? 🙂

  2. It’s an odd book, unlike anything I’d read before or since. It shouldn’t work, but it does…somehow. Breaks most of the rules and gets away with it. Someone lent me their copy to read and said that most of Mitchell’s books were like this, but I’ve never tried another one.

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