Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Posted October 18, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literary Fiction, Science Fiction / 0 Comments

Cloud Atlas by David MitchellTitle: Cloud Atlas (Goodreads)
Author: David Mitchell
Published: Random House, 2004
Pages: 529
Genres: Literary Fiction, Science Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Cloud Atlas is a really difficult book to review; it starts off as a Journal circa 1850 documenting a voyage home from the Chatham Islands, then it’s a series of letters from a 1930’s English musician to a Belgian composer, then a journalist from 1975 investigating for a novel that will blow the whistle on a new nuclear power plant , a 21st century publisher is fleeing from gangsters in a  movie dramatization, a dystopian future story told from genetically-engineered clone’s perspective and finally the post-apocalyptic future where technology is all wiped out. Confusing? Well this book does all come together to make Cloud Atlas a truly interesting book to read but I don’t think it worked as intended.

I think author David Mitchell is too clever for his own good in this book. The stories do all come together and he really shows off by writing each section in the best genre style to suit what is happening but he is just doing too much in this book. I feel like I’m just starting to get invested in the story of one protagonist and then Mitchell jumps to the next one without any sense of resolution. Sure he does return to each story a second time around but by then I feel like it’s too late for me.

David Mitchell really flexes his literary muscles in the book and he is a wonderful writer but there is so much happening and I never felt like he achieved what he was hoping for. I’m not sure cutting from six to three or four story arcs would have helped the book but it might have helped the reader become more invested. I particularly liked the thriller style of the investigative journalist and that gangster story line of the publisher but when their story is just getting exciting it’s all over and we have to move on to the next one.

Cloud Atlas is an interesting, clever book but this doesn’t make it a good book; I enjoyed parts of it and other parts infuriated me. I will say I’m glad to have read it before the movie adaptation is released but it’s not something I ever want to revisit again. I get that he is trying to do a novel about evolution or reincarnation; as each protagonist bares the same birth mark but that element of the book never really went anywhere. I know some people really love this book but I felt like it was too much of a show off. I’d like to read a David Mitchell book where he sticks to one genre instead of all of them.

0 responses to “Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

  1. Marie

    I didn’t finish this one, I found it to be a bit ‘all over the place’. I didn’t realise they were making a film though, and will probably try to catch that at some point to see of it’s any more coherent.


  2. I got this one for like $1 off my library sale shelf I was so excited course now I wonder how much I’d enjoy it. I am curious I must admit. Perhaps this is one of those cases that the movie does a better job

  3. Lectus Read

    I read somewhere that for you to understand the book you’ll need to watch the movie, and you won’t be able to understand the movie without first reading the book lol! I thought that was funny.

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