Cloud Atlas

A Novel

Mitchell, David

Book - 2004
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Cloud Atlas
Recounts the connected stories of people from the past and the distant future, from a nineteenth-century notary and an investigative journalist in the 1970s to a young man who searches for meaning in a post-apocalayptic world.

Publisher: New York : Random House Trade Paperbacks, c2004
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 0375507256
Branch Call Number: FICTION
Characteristics: 509 p. ; 22 cm


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Jan 04, 2015
  • FindingJane rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Looping back and forth through time, “Cloud Atlas” is an ambitious novel, one that digs deep into the bestial heart of humanity. The panoply of characters range far and wide, each one an indispensable thread in a broad tapestry. Even when a person seems like a mere bit player, s/he will display a sudden spate of activity that puts a twist on the narrative and propels the main characters on another leg of the journey.

The book ranges across time and space, nearly spanning the globe as various people struggle to find their footing in a world that becomes ever more chaotic the farther they travel. While there are some nuggets of hope for the future, the overall picture is that of a race bent on destroying itself. Danger, love, lust, art, adventure, treachery, murder, conspiracy, abuse and more make this book an electrifying jaunt.

Jan 03, 2015
  • Bartolomew rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Some novels start so well and just don't stop, you can't put them down. Halfway through, however, you realize you don't want it to end, EVER, and so you slow down as much as possible to make it last. This is one such novel.
Great descriptive passages, bold, constantly changing narrative and a great plot and message. Outstanding in every way, READ THIS BOOK!

Dec 26, 2014
  • mvkramer rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Every mini-story within the book has a very different feeling; the narrators all seem like very different people - and you care about all of them. It's a book that engages you and makes you think. Very well done.

Dec 26, 2014
  • mvkramer rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Every mini-story within the book has a very different feeling; the narrators all seem like very different people - and you care about all of them. It's a book that engages you and makes you think. Very well done.

Nov 29, 2014
  • Persnickety77 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Amazing. it's like 6 books all rolled up in one; some are seemingly trivial, some are bizarre, but they're all awesome.

Oct 20, 2014
  • nannerl rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I tried twice and just could not get interested in this book, even though I'd rather read than eat. I suspect this is a book that will primarily be appreciated by other writers, and I'm not one. I really enjoyed Black Swan Green by this author, which is why I thought I'd like this one, but.... it just didn't happen.

Sep 16, 2014
  • danomcd rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

It took me a REALLY long time to get around to reading this - basically I finally wanted to see if it added to the story presented in the movie. It was okay but in general I found that it seemed to be trying to present some sort of overarching message across the multiple story lines (e.g. common souls indicated by the comet tatoo?) but it never really became clear to me what the author was really trying to say. Some of the stories were fun to read - some were incredibly boring. If nothing else it was interesting that one author can write in so many different styles and representing different social timelines.

Jul 07, 2014

May 5 2014.......I watched the movie first. Enjoyed it, but really didn't understand it. The book is more revealing, and it was nice to have faces to the characters as I read along. Will watch the movie again, now that I have read the book. I will re-read this in the future as it has many thoughts to ponder upon. I kinda think that was the point of the book, to get you thinking about different ideas. I don't really have a good memory, and had trouble getting back into the stories after they were interrupted. I think next time I will read them from start to finish before moving on to the next one. I'll write down the points to ponder as I go along next time as well. I'm just too scatterbrained to remember them all. I must mention that I also cheated, while reading this. I read it while listening along to the -Daisy- presentation (from the CNIB) (no audiobook was available, so I managed to wangle the Daisy version, even though I was not supposed to have it.) I must say that the Daisy version was a delight to listen to, different narrators with great accents and great dramatical reading. Also I must mention, that the Daisy version was quite different from the print version. Whole words changed, whole phrases and paragraphs changed or rearranged. It was like an editing of the book had taken place before the recording was done. Wondering which is truly the original? and why this was done? Anyway, this book was very entertaining, but definitely not cotton candy, and I will recommend it to some of my friends, but not to others!

Mar 02, 2014
  • hmcgivney rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I think I may have psyched myself out about this one. I was told that it was challenging, high-brow literature, and so I pre-judged that I wouldn't "get" it. I'm glad I gave it the college try, though, because I think these nested and entwined stories are very good. A few of them took some time for me to find the rhythm, but it wasn't insurmountably difficult. I enjoyed the differences in tone and writing style among the six stories. And I liked most of the main characters, especially Luisa Rey and Sonmi-451 (I would have appreciated a whole book about either of these women, and I think Sonmi-451's story was particularly chilling and profound). Ultimately, I enjoyed the unusual structure and style, and I appreciate the message that an individual's struggle against cruelty and oppression may not seem like much (and may feel practically pointless), but that many drops make an ocean.

Nov 30, 2013

Not so great

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Aug 04, 2013
  • sbn_kc rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

A convoluted mess that wanders along several threads. Found the one interesting thread and finished it across several chapters, then gave up on the book.

Jul 12, 2013
  • Luv2cNewThings rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

The reader follows a group of different people through reincarnations - starting with Adam Ewing. It seems that regardless if a character lived a full life or not, his or her story goes on.

The reader also goes on a passage of time. He/she will reach the pinnacle of humanity, which falls and starts all over again for a lack of better terminology!

On a side note: It was interesting how David Mitchell structured the novel. Unfortunately, it simply did not keep my interest.

Jan 07, 2013
  • AnneDromeda rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

David Mitchell’s *Cloud Atlas,* released in 2004, fits the definition of a sleeper hit. Ridiculously well reviewed, its unconventional composition threw many early readers. It took time for word of mouth to spread from those tenacious readers who made it far enough into the book to make sense of Mitchell’s ambitious project. Eventually, even Hollywood caught on, so those of you who’re interested in the premise but frustrated by the execution can go take it all in on the silver screen right now. You could. But I really think you should read the book first, and not just because I’m a librarian.<br />

*Cloud Atlas* is composed of six separate stories fit together like matroishka dolls. It begins with the epistolary narrative of a man at sea in the South Pacific in the 1860s, witnessing the last gasps of the slave trade and the messy, colonial birth of global capitalism and industrialism. The flowery writing perfectly suits a 19th-century adventure tale full of pirates, sailing, exploring and riches. However, just as the action begins to really pick up, the narrative ends mid-sentence.<br />

Another – seemingly unrelated – narrative begins. It follows the couch-surfing adventures of a brilliant composer named Robert Frobisher through 1930s Europe. Full of witty, Wildean dialogue, this narrative is more than entertaining enough to carry the reader through to Frobisher’s discovery of a book sharing the title of *Cloud Atlas*’s interrupted opening narrative in the South Pacific. <br />

Having just gotten readers comfortable, Mitchell again shifts focus; this time, we land in a 1970s-era spy thriller that references Frobisher. Why? No explanation’s given, and the narrative breaks again. Now we follow the head of a vanity publishing house through a comedy of errors leaving him imprisoned in a nursing home in our current time. Then we jump to the testimony of a human clone genetically optimized for food service, testifying her experience living in a hyper-commercialized dystopian version of future-Korea to a corporate archivist. Then we land in post-apocalyptic Hawai’i, where an elder tells his life story in orature. This narrative is the deepest in the layered intertextuality of *Cloud Atlas* – after hearing Zachary Bailey’s life story we move in reverse order back through the other half of the nesting narratives begun earlier in the novel.<br/ >

Technically composed of six well-crafted novellas interlaced in unexpected ways, the weighty consequence of each narrative relies on all the others to be fully realized. *Cloud Atlas* could alternatively have been titled Frankfurt School’s Instrumental Reason: The Novel, but those with no background in Continental philosophy will still find much to love here, if they take the time. *Cloud Atlas* is highly recommended to fans of Margaret Atwood, Ursula K Le Guin or any literary science fiction. It is also recommended to any readers of literary fiction who don’t mind some serious experimentation, and who love beautifully crafted language.


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