Customer Reviews for

Cloud Atlas

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

106 out of 120 people found this review helpful.

A Profusion of Allusions

Cloud Atlas is difficult to describe. It is hard to explain what the book is about, precisely. It is a book about what makes a story, and it is a book about what it means to be human. Ultimately, it is a book that forces the reader to question what is reality. It is...
Cloud Atlas is difficult to describe. It is hard to explain what the book is about, precisely. It is a book about what makes a story, and it is a book about what it means to be human. Ultimately, it is a book that forces the reader to question what is reality. It is a postmodern tour de force, laden with literary allusions. For example: Sonmi-451 is a clear reference to Bradbury's classic 'Fahrenheit 451', and her story parallels themes explored in '1984'. Similarly, Zachry's tale of Sloosha's Crossin' is much like Russell Hoban's 'Riddley Walker'. From Frobisher's letters, to Luisa's quest for truth... from Smith's journal and his final question at the end, 'Cloud Atlas' is a brilliant novel that intertwines stories and styles across centuries, continents, and cultures. The stories are relatable and terrifying, and all speak volumes about human nature and its relationship to stories. It is not a novel that you can say is 'about' something, in terms of plot. It's far more thematic. It's about humanity's relationship to one another, to stories, and its quest for truth and the definition of reality. An excellent read that blew me away.

posted by Anonymous on March 25, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

21 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

Mr. Mitchell is too clever for his own good with regards to this book.


"Notice how people insert the "Mr." before sinking the blade in?" (Mitchell, Cloud Atlas, p. 137(ebook)).

I definitely get the sense that the author is clever and very skilled at writing. Unfortunately, Mr. Mitchell is too clever for his own good with regards to th...

"Notice how people insert the "Mr." before sinking the blade in?" (Mitchell, Cloud Atlas, p. 137(ebook)).

I definitely get the sense that the author is clever and very skilled at writing. Unfortunately, Mr. Mitchell is too clever for his own good with regards to this book.

One of the ideas that seems to be brought up by the book is the idea of reincarnation. In each of the six short stories that this book is made up of, one of the character's is marked as connected to the other stories. Quite literally infact, as that character always seems to have a comet shaped birth mark. These characters have vague memories of things that the other marked characters have experienced, like remembering a piece of music or visiting a specific place.

This element of the interweaving stories falls apart for me when in the first half of the fourth story, Mr. Michell effectively decides that the first three stories are fiction. Now don't get me wrong. I don't have problems with having a story within a story. And I know that fictional stories can be based on real things. But if you're going to do that, you need to be very good about making sure we know that's what you're doing. You don't get credit for exploring the idea of reincarnation when you decide that half of those lives never happened in your story's reality. In much the same way that one of Mr. Mitchell's characters calls a girl a dunce for believing Sherlock Holmes was a real person, I'm calling Mr. Mitchell an equal level of dunce for suggesting that people can be reincarnations of people that never existed in reality.

Add to that a plot twist in the fifth story that's so obvious it was done to death seven years before I was born, and the fact that the first and sixth stories are written with such a heavy (though arguably appropriate) dialect as to almost make them unreadable, and I would say I'm sorry I wasted time on this book.

posted by 10068023 on October 8, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2012

    What the f

    I am so confused. Anyone else read this? This book makes me feel dumb.

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2012

    Enchanting meditative frightening

    An excellent book unlike any other i have ever read.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2012

    best book i have ever read

    best book i have ever read

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 7, 2012

    Most unusual and highly entertaining!

    Here is a collection of vaguely linked stories that come together in a universal truth. Absolutely enthralling!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 14, 2012

    Amazing and Indescribable

    I haven't ever read anything that I enjoyed so much, both as philosophy and as a novel. I'm not sure I can even describe it, but I loved it. I finished it, then immediately turned back to the first page to read it again, I liked it that much.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2011

    Amazing

    Quite possibly the best thing i've ever read. A how to manual for writing with balls. Read it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2011

    Not for the faint of heart-

    This story is probably for more advanced readers. I LOVED it, but if you're not a "literary" reader-that is, you haven't read books from different time periods, it'll be hard to identify with the shifting language. This book deserves to be read twice. The stories are so interesting and can pretty much stand on their own. This is the second book I've read by David Mitchell and I can't wait to explore the rest of his novels.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2008

    I would consider this one of my all time favorites

    This book caught my attention from the NPR summer recommendations. I was greatly surprise and delighted by this book. As captivating as this book was, it is hard to discuss exactly what its about. I think those without an open mind or those with pre-determined ideas about what a book should be would not enjoy this, however those with a sense of wonder and curosity about humanity and interconnectiveness would find this a great read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2008

    stifling bore

    This was the worst book I ever read. It amazes me that anyone would say they liked it. Boring and makes no sense.

    2 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A classic book that has only now been marked as a book-to-movie!

    A classic book that has only now been marked as a book-to-movie!! A hard to read book, but very interesting.

    "Structured rather akin to a Chinese puzzle or a set of Matrioshka dolls, there are dazzling shifts in genre
    and voice and the stories leak into each other with incidents and people being passed on like batons in a
    relay race. The 19th-century journals of an American notary in the Pacific that open the novel are
    subsequently unearthed 80 years later on by Frobisher in the library of the ageing, syphilitic maestro he's
     trying to fleece. Frobisher's waspish letters to his old Cambridge crony, Rufus Sexsmith, in turn
    surface when Rufus, is murdered. A novelistic account of the journalist Luisa Rey's investigation into
    Rufus' death finds its way to Timothy Cavendish, a London vanity publisher with an author who has an
    ingenious method of silencing a snide reviewer. And in a near-dystopian Blade Runner-esque future, a
    genetically engineered fast food waitress sees a movie based on Cavendish's unfortunate internment
    in a Hull retirement home. All this is less tricky than it sounds, only the lone "Zachary" chapter, told in
    Pacific Islander dialect is an exercise in style too far. Not all the threads quite connect but nonetheless
    Mitchell binds them into a quite spellbinding rumination on human nature, power, oppression, race,
    colonialism and consumerism"

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2013

    What begins as mundane journal entries, turns to a collection of

    What begins as mundane journal entries, turns to a collection of letters received by a lover, then to a third-person narrative about
    a woman in the 1970s. Then, onto another time and another life, and so on. (I admit, I was so confused when the journal entries
    stopped mid-sentence, I thought I had a misprinted copy of the book in my hands! But I kept reading, and then it made sense.)

    Written as a palindrome covering many centuries, the book begins in the 1870s and moves through to the far-distant dystopian future.
    This portion of the book takes place in the 23rd or 24th century, after the human race has all but destroyed the planet, and tells the story
    of an isolated island people. Their language and culture has deteriorated to a point where they've returned to a highly tribal way of life.
    Then the book begins a descent back to the 1870s.

    Each seemingly-unconnected story tells of a life that was in some way impacted by the previous. (How they are connected become clear
    by the third chapter, actually.) When I describe it to friends, I always say, "up until the middle of the book, it seems to be just stating facts,
    telling parts of stories about people reincarnated in lives, until you start to understand how the past lives influenced a chain of events that
    affected the current lives."

    In the final chapter, I understood how a simple act of kindness could ripple through time and affect other lives. Each character has the
    choice to be kind or to be selfish. To love, or to be selfish. 

    This book is about unconditional love transcending time and space, and being a force for change at the microcosmic level. It also covers
    politics, environmental impact, social justice, compassion, consumerism. There is a lovely parallel drawn to factory farming in the chapter 
    about futuristic Korea, where genentically-modified people (or Fabricants) are a slave race.

    This book is gorgeous and gritty. It's thoughtful, deep, and spiritual.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2013

    A must for all who wonder about the next life or the last...

    A miracle of fiction

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    Love the book, beautifully written - BUT BE WARNED - E-BOOK VERS

    Love the book, beautifully written - BUT BE WARNED - E-BOOK VERSION IS EDITED FOR CONTENT.  Curse words or possibly offensive language have been edited, showing (usually) just the first letter followed by a series of dashes.  This is the case in both the Amazon and B&N eBook versions.  Very disappointing. I called Customer Service an they were unable to explain why it is this way other than saying it's how the publisher wanted it.  I was under the impression that eBooks were exact copies of the printed version, but that is obviously not the case.  The audio version is also excellent .  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2012

    CLOUD ATLAS, overly ambitious

    A novel comprised of four separate tales that attempts to tie them all together through the notion that the main character in each tale is the same person reincarnated throughout the centuries. The individual tales were intriguing at times but to be honest, I started wishing it would all end by the 3/4 mark. I cannot now bring myself to even consider going to watch the 3 hour rehash on the big screen.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2012

    An exercise in stylistic shapechanging.

    I leave to others the debate about what Mitchell "means" in this book. I find of particular interest the different tones & styles he uses to tell the interconnected stories. In a way this book is almost a homage to different styles and writers, as the Cavendish story reads like a pastiche of Bonfiglioli, Anita Rey is almost a parody of a hollywood thriller and the central island story is an extended homage to Anthony Burgess or Russel Hoban.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2012

    Lily

    May i join?

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2012

    it was different

    I read alot and this book's style is very different. You are in the past in the 1800's, the future a few centuries away, then the 1960's and part of the story is in the 1920's. The stories tie together somewhat. It was interesting reading, but I would not recommend except to people who can almost read anything. I read it because I heard it was a movie in the make with some of my favorite actors. I want to know how they are going to tie it all together in the movie compared to this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2012

    Rarely do I encounter a novel that entertains me, challenges me,

    Rarely do I encounter a novel that entertains me, challenges me, frustrates me, and pleases me as much as this novel has. David Mitchell has created an epic work of postmodern fiction—one that utilizes narrative structure in a thoroughly unique way that corresponds to the novel’s thematic threads of postcolonialism and human interdependence across time and space. By blending what appear to be randomly chosen genres (19th-century travel journal, early 20th-century epistolary novel, contemporary journalistic crime drama, comedic confessional, dystopian science fiction, and post-apocalyptic drama), Mitchell adeptly demonstrates the commonalities among these various narrative forms. No summary could do justice to Mitchell’s achievement in “Cloud Atlas,” a visionary work of metafiction that is as much about why we tell stories, what they do for humanity, and the moral implications of storytelling as it is about the characters and plots in the stories that constitute the larger narrative. If you want to engage a work of literature that will challenge the way you think and evoke profound moral questions as it simultaneously pleases your aesthetic sense of narrative art, I urge you read “Cloud Atlas” as soon as you possibly can.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2014

    To spiritheart

    Original cloudclan that I made two days ago is at 'cloud clan' only res. You took the name. :(

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2014

    CloudSpirit and FalconStorm

    They walked in.

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