ebookclassics

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (2002)

cloudA half-finished book is a half-finished love affair.” I loved this quote from Cloud Atlas and will probably remember it forever which is strange since I’m not really a quote girl.

* CONTAINS SPOILERS

THE BOOK
Cloud Atlas is the third novel by the British writer, David Mitchell. The book won the Book Awards Literary Fiction Award and the Richard & Judy Book of the Year award. It was also short-listed for the 2004 Booker Prize, Nebula Award and Arthur C. Clarke Award.

THE STORY
Cloud Atlas consists of six nested stories following a number of characters who are connected through time and space, and may or may not be, reincarnations of one another. The characters include a lawyer discovering the racial complexities of a South Pacific island, a scoundrel musician looking for his next benefactor, an elderly book publisher who can’t stay out of trouble, a journalist investigating a conspiracy at a nuclear energy facility, a girl scientifically bred to join a serving class of humans, and the life of a tribesman after the collapse of civilization on Earth.

If you’re saying to yourself WTF?, you would be absolutely right!

THE GOOD
Cloud Atlas could have been a disaster, and part of me still thinks it’s too convoluted, but somehow David Mitchell created an animated and challenging story about human relationships and what brings us together (love, faith, survival) or tears us apart (discrimination, greed, war). As bewildering as the story could be, I couldn’t tear myself away because I needed to solve the puzzle. Who are these characters? How are they connected? What is the fate that lies in wait for them? I became invested in the characters and I think that’s why the book ultimately worked for me.

THE BAD
Cloud Atlas has so many great characters, but we barely get to scratch the surface of their individual stories in this very crowded book and I felt like this was a shame. A part of me questioned putting all of them together. Why not let the characters have their own stories, especially when the connections between them were at times weak or a little too convenient or didn’t make sense?

CONCLUSION
Unlike anything else I’ve ever read, Cloud Atlas is a complex hybrid of genres but remains at its heart a story about what it means to be human. I’m still deciding whether it’s a work of genius or a hot mess. It often was disorienting and felt like a strange literary experiment, but I do feel my patience was rewarded with compelling characters and a story that I won’t forget.

4/5 Stars

Advertisements

15 comments on “Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (2002)

  1. Naomi
    May 6, 2015

    I have no idea if I will ever read this book. Part of me is scared of it and part of me wants to conquer it. Even more so after hearing you call it “a strange literary experiment”. Oooh.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      May 6, 2015

      I was scared of Cloud Atlas too, but the characters suck you into their stories. You do spend a lot of time scratching you head wondering where it’s all going.,

      Liked by 1 person

  2. janceewright
    May 6, 2015

    That is a fantastic quote!! I heartily agree.

    I felt much the same way about Infinite Jest. I had to read up on a couple of blogs after I finished to piece all the different connections and stories together, but once I got it, my mind was blown. Reading through it was hard though!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      May 6, 2015

      Ooh, Infinite Jest really intimidates me and it’s definitely one of those books I’m on the fence about reading. It’s so great that you read it and loved it.

      Like

      • janceewright
        May 7, 2015

        It was hard to get through, I’ll admit. Half the time, I was all “what am I reading?”. But I’m glad I stuck with it.

        Like

  3. I’m glad you ended up liking it. It would’ve been a shame to put in that much effort and not like it. Your review makes me want to try it … maybe, lol. I still need to think about it. Ha!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      May 6, 2015

      I agree it would have been disappointing if I was meh about the book in the end. I watched the movie afterwards and with this kind of story, I think you are definitely at a disadvantage if you don’t read the book first.

      Like

  4. Cathy746books
    May 6, 2015

    I adore this book, actually I adore all his books! I think it’s got a reputation for being a difficult read which is a wee bit unfair. If you haven’t read any of his other books,try Black Swan Green which is one of his few books with a linear narrative!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      May 6, 2015

      Thanks for the recommendation! I will definitely try more of his work and I only know The Bone Clocks, so it helps to hear another book is good.

      Like

  5. KatieMcD
    May 6, 2015

    Girl, I’m in awe you finished this so fast! I’m bookmarking this, and will come back to it when I’m through! Way to hold down the fort for #CloudAtlasAlong while we all catch up 🙂

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      May 6, 2015

      Thanks! I had to keep going and find out how it ended. I can’t wait to discuss it with you guys.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Brian Joseph
    May 7, 2015

    Great review.

    I have yet to read this but I really would like to. It sounds so creative and meaningful.

    I can see how a complex plot can get in the way enjoyment and understanding but as you allude to, it is impressive how the author held it together.

    Like

  7. ebookclassics
    May 7, 2015

    I think you would really enjoy intricacies of this book. The characters really help hold the book together.

    Like

  8. Trish
    May 11, 2015

    I wish I hadn’t struggled with this one quite so much–I was so intrigued until I hit Sloosha and then it all fell apart for me. By the end I wondered what the heck the point was. I have been curious to see the movie but haven’t made the time yet. I do agree that I would have loved to seen more fleshed out characters!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      May 12, 2015

      Sloosha was the point where I almost gave up on the book too. I thought this is just too weird and all over the place. I gave it a few days and then decided to give it another chance. I think the characters really helped me see the book through to the end.

      Like

Thoughts? Comments?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on May 6, 2015 by in Reviews and tagged , .

Now reading

and …

and …

%d bloggers like this: