Friday, November 30, 2012

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

Thursday 7th November- Beyond the hamlet, upon a forlorn strand, I happened upon a trail of recent footprints. 

I loved Cloud Atlas, though it definitely takes some getting into, and I didn't love it at first. It is a fascinating story, spanning over six time periods: the 19th century, the 1930s, the 1970s, the present day, a near-future Big Brother type society in Korea, post-apocalyptic Hawaii, and then back again. David Mitchell is a really amazing writer. This one is so different from Black Swan Green, yet equally well done, and certainly more complex. I really enjoyed all of the stories here, with possibly the exception of the first and last story, the one in the 19th century. The writing was a bit off-putting there, though the second half of it was good. David Mitchell shifts almost effortlessly from historical fiction to science fiction.

The next obvious question is: are the stories interconnected? And yes, they are. In each one, some mention is made of either a person or a book or a piece of music in the previous story. And there are some more subtle references as well, like the comet-shaped birthmark that many of the characters share. As you may know, a movie just came out of Cloud Atlas. I may watch it, though I doubt it's as good as the book.

This one has really great characters. I especially liked Luisa Rey, the smart and sharp journalist from the 1970s. She's determined to uncover the truth, no matter the consequences, and I really admired that about her. Sonmi-451 is not bad either, and very smart.

I liked the way that Mitchell structured the book too. Each of the first sections of the stories ends on a cliffhanger: either the sentence cuts off in the middle or something momentous happens, and you just have to wait until it comes back around again (though of course, you could cheat and skip ahead, if only to see whether the character survives).

I would highly recommend this one, but if you find the first section a little boring, stick with it. The rest are much better.

Read Cloud Atlas:
  • if you like historical fiction
  • if you like science fiction
  • if you like "all encompassing fiction" I guess you could call it
  • if you like David Mitchell
  • if you saw the movie and want to read the book (although it's always better to read the book first)
509 pages.
Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading (jf I own it)!

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