The Cloud

( 93 )

Overview

A late-night accident on a San Francisco subway platform has altered Nat Idle's reality. But then, there are no accidents.

Disoriented and bloodied after a near-deadly fall onto the subway tracks, freelance journalist Nat Idle discovers that a beautiful stranger has come to his aid . . . and that the burly man who barreled into him had intended to do Nat harm. What he doesn't know is why—and his quest for answers leads him to uncover a handful of mysterious deaths, and a bizarre...

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The Cloud

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Overview

A late-night accident on a San Francisco subway platform has altered Nat Idle's reality. But then, there are no accidents.

Disoriented and bloodied after a near-deadly fall onto the subway tracks, freelance journalist Nat Idle discovers that a beautiful stranger has come to his aid . . . and that the burly man who barreled into him had intended to do Nat harm. What he doesn't know is why—and his quest for answers leads him to uncover a handful of mysterious deaths, and a bizarre neurological disorder plaguing Bay Area children . . . as he ventures ultimately into the Cloud.

In a brave new world, the Cloud is where we store data, secrets, dreams. But it is something more—something insidious with the power to change not just how we interact with the world, but our behavior, and brains. Nat, in search of the truth, finds himself lost in a psychedelic maze, discovering things that cannot possibly be, realizing there is no one and nothing he can trust . . . not even his own mind.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/25/2014
Richtel's exciting third novel featuring Nathaniel "Nat" Idle (after Devil's Plaything) finds the San Francisco reporter literally shoved into an investigation that explores the ramifications of the vast technological changes being wrought by the ways data can be manipulated, presented, and stored in the Cloud. While Idle is waiting for a subway train, an apparently drunken stranger knocks him down on the platform before stumbling off, leaving Idle with a cracked head. The man drops a piece of paper with Idle's name on it and that of Sandy Vello. A concussed Idle quizzes a helpful witness, Googles Vello, and finds a recent obituary, with links to PRISM Corp. and juvenile prison Twin Peaks. In his quest for answers, Idle finds himself trailed both physically and electronically, assaulted and concussed again, and led into a technological world of marvels and horrors. Richtel's woozy hero, often unsure what is real and what imagined, is an appropriate guide through this frightening, well-envisioned Cloud of the future. (Feb.)
Lisa Gardner
“A pulse-pounding, down-the-rabbit-hole-tale where everyone has a secret, information comes at a deadly price, and danger is always closer than you think. Be prepared to stay up very late; this book is worth it!”
Joseph Finder
THE CLOUD is a non-stop, paranoid thriller whose terrors are all too believable. Richtel spins today’s cutting-edge technology into a story that will keep you guessing to the last page—and render you speechless when its final secret is revealed.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062256683
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/29/2013
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Super Premium Edition
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Matt Richtel reports for the New York Times, covering a range of issues, including the impact of technology on our lives. In 2010 he won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for a series of articles that exposed the pervasive risks of distracted driving and its root causes, prompting widespread reform. He is the author of three novels, including, mostly recently, The Cloud. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the Columbia Journalism School, he is based in San Francisco, where he lives with his wife, Meredith Barad, a neurologist, and their two children.

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Read an Excerpt

The Cloud


By Matt Richtel

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2013 Mat Richtel
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-06-225668-3


Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Present Day


I stare into the dark tunnel and find myself imagining how it would look to Isaac.

To an eight-month-old, the shadowed subway opening wouldn't seem ominous. It would be a grand curiosity. Shards of reflected light frame its entrance like shiny pieces of broken glass. Would Isaac try to touch them? Would he finger a droplet of misty water rolling down the jagged wall and put it on his tongue?

The cavern wouldn't frighten my son. It would excite him with possibility and mystery.

A horn blares and I flinch. The night's last express approaches. I'm without company on the below-ground platform but I am joined by a wicked aroma. It's coming from a green, paint-chipped metal trash can that, from the scent, must contain a day's worth of half-eaten fruit and the carcass of an extremely dead sandwich. The trash can sits along the wall, beneath a dimly lit poster advertising a service that promises to turn your mobile phone into a day-trading terminal. More garbage. "Buy Low, Sell High, Commute Profitably."

Isaac would love little more than exploring the contours of the iPhone with his mouth.

I turn back to the track and squint across the platform. I'm looking for the woman with the tri-athlete's calves. I saw her upstairs at the turnstile, a brunette with darkly tinted skin wearing a skirt and a look of compassion. I watched her put some money in a cup at the feet of a figure sitting in the shadows upstairs, and she turned away with a kindly, worried look.

How come all the beautiful women who look like they were born to heal the damaged are going a different direction than me on the train?

Would she be a great mom?

Would she be impressed that tomorrow I become this year's recipient of a national magazine award for investigative reporting? Would she help me feel impressed? A rumbling roars from the tunnel. It's not yet my train, the K, but the nearing Express, expressing. Over the din, I hear rustling from behind me; something heavy hits the pavement. A boot step, then another. I turn to see a mountainous man in a leather jacket materialize from the darkness, stumbling toward me. He's the picture of a San Francisco drunk, downtrodden but wearing a fashionable coat with collar upturned, curly beard, and dark shades.

I'm tempted to ask him if he's okay as the train whooshes out of the tunnel into the station.

The drunkard lunges, or trips. He careens toward me, leading with his arms as if pushing through a revolving door.

The train's warning horn explodes.

Powerful palms crash against my chest, fingers claw my sweatshirt. I stumble backward toward the track. I flail to cling to his beefy forearms.

I feel the train pass behind me, airbrushing my scalp. Isaac. My son. Will I see him again?

One last tactic.

I yank the drunk on top of me. Our momentum abruptly changes. We fall straight down to the pavement. My backpack slams into the ground. My spine unfolds. Crack. I see an instant of light, then one of black, then a hazy return to the moment. I smell something like burning tires. Then cologne. I feel intense pressure on my chest.

The mountain man lies on top of me. I think: The base of my skull hit the edge of the concrete platform, but after the train passed. I'm alive.

I frantically push and kick the man from atop me. I claw the cement, then roll, panting in downward dog. I run a triage check. Limbs moving, no obvious fractures. I feel sticky warmth at the back of my skull, a cut but not deep, and shy of the heavy capillary bed on top of my head that would bleed profusely and require stitches. I attended med school a decade ago, before quitting to become a journalist, but I'm still fluent in the anatomy of survival.

I look up to see the drunk. He's ambling awkwardly. He holds his arms close to his chest. He disappears into a darkened stairwell. From his pocket, something falls, a piece of paper, onto the damp cement.

"Don't move. You might be hurt." The voice comes from my right.

It's the brunette, the one from the turnstile.

I blink hard. She's blurry.

"Breathe." She kneels and extends an arm and puts fingers on my shoulder.

Her touch brings attention to the acute pain near my deltoid. The strap of my ratty black backpack must've given me a nifty friction burn. But it also probably spared me a rougher fall. The pack, which follows me everywhere, contains an overflow of magazines and notes, the flora and fauna from which journalism sprouts and, tonight, a serendipitous pillow. Lucky I left my laptop home today, for its sake and mine.

I exhale.

I picture the man coming at me, falling but somehow purposeful, his face camouflaged.

"Say something," the brunette encourages. "Did you know that guy?"

"Scleroderma."

"What?"

I don't express my thought: the drunk's skin was pulled tight against his forehead and around his eyes. Scleroderma means "tight skin." Its presence can indicate a rare disease of the organs, very rare, so these days it is much more likely to indicate a visit to the dermatologist; drunk recently had an injection of Botox that tightened his wrinkles. Rich drunk.

My scrutiny is a sign of my own condition: excessive medical analysis. Some people focus on faces, or names. I remember pathologies. My not-very-exciting sixth sense is seeing illnesses and physical conditions, a vestige of med school. Jaundice, clinical water retention, lazy eye, gout, misaligned spine, all the herpes variants, emphysema cough, flat-footedness. The obsessive medical labeler can identify the flat-footer even when the condition hustles by, wearing shoes. Even though I'd abdicated a career in medicine for one in medical journalism - after realizing I lacked the intensity and rigidity to be a good doctor - can't shake associating humans with their conditions. "It doesn't feel right." I look in the direction the man stumbled away.

"What? Your head?"

"That too."

I stand, feeling her fingers fall away. I wobble, get my footing, walk unsteadily to the piece of paper that fell from the man's leather jacket. I pick it up.

It is lined and legal sized, creased and smudged with black grease. I unfold it and discover two names written in blue pen. One name is Sandy Vello. Doesn't sound familiar. The other name does.

"What is it?" The brunette puts a hand on my arm. I point to my name on the piece of paper. She shakes her head, uncertain what I'm talking about.

"This is my name?"

"What?"

"Nathaniel Idle."

"I'm Faith." She's still not getting it: My name was on a piece of paper that fell from the pocket of a man who nearly turned me into a subway smoothie.

"That wasn't an accident." I clutch the piece of paper in both hands.

"Do you think you need an ambulance? I suspect you're in shock."

I look at Faith. She's biting the edge of her bottom lip with perfect teeth, her head tilted, concerned, empathic. Early thirties, jet-black hair, arched eyebrows, soft features, irresistible grace of the genus Beautiful Person. My eyes lock on her for a millisecond more than is appropriate. I am struck by an urge to make her laugh. But it's overwhelmed by a more powerful compulsion.

I look at the stairs where the man disappeared. I sprint after him.
(Continues...)


Excerpted from The Cloud by Matt Richtel. Copyright © 2013 by Mat Richtel. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 93 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(69)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 93 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 31, 2013

    If you stop to really think about it, it¿s amazing how books fin

    If you stop to really think about it, it’s amazing how books find readers, since the ocean is filled with more than 200,000 books produced each year, and this ocean is constantly expanding, a black hole of pages and kilobytes produced for what the author hopes is mass consumption. While it’s not a grand tale, I discovered THE CLOUD through an online ad that I caught out of the corner of my eye, the cover being my first introduction to this fine tale, sampled the first several paragraphs, and then noticed a smattering of reviews. All of this piqued my curiosity, led to an impulse purchase on my Kindle, and now this review.

    Why do I tell you this? Because it happens on occasion to me (I’ve never met a book that I wasn’t willing to give a chance, and I have no problem stepping out from the pack), but it’s rare when that connection works just perfectly, like the universe dropped a book into the market just for me. This was one of those books, and yet as certain as I am of this, it’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly why.

    I can be a bit of a sucker for first person novels. I love the immediacy and stepping right into the shoes of the main character and walking around for miles and miles until we reach some sort of destination. This novel afforded me this wonderful opportunity, and I have to admit I became rather fond of Nat Idle, even if he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and stumbled around like a drunken sailor for much of this tale, forcing me to sometimes question my own equilibrium and state of sobriety, despite tea being my strongest drink as of late.

    This novel bends genres, defies conventions, marches to the beat of its own drummer, or feel free to insert your favorite descriptive phrase. It could easily be classified as a mystery, although the mysterious deaths aren’t really the primary focus for Nat, or it could just as easily be classified as a thriller, although it’s not written from multiple points of view, and there’s no real ticking clock. But THE CLOUD is a novel I didn’t want to end, it’s a novel I couldn’t put down, and it’s a novel where the voice carried me home, cheering me on every step of the way.

    Character growth isn’t normally a focus of thrillers, and yet I felt Nat grow as a character, as a person, and as a man, and his relationship with Faith added heart to a novel that might have otherwise been a bit lacking, since this tale ends up being driven by technology and the chase to discover the truth. It’s a chase that kept me flipping pages, as fast as my brain could carry me, as I savored every moment of this thrilling read.

    Matt Richtel isn’t a new author, but he’s new to me, and I look forward to checking out more of his tales. If you’re smart, you might want to do the same as well.

    Robert Downs
    Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator

    15 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2013

    Anon

    B&N why do you continue to allow these obviously young children to hijack this review site with their silly roll playing games. Most of us want to read people's opinions on the book in question.

    10 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers' Favorite Nate Idle left m

    Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers' Favorite

    Nate Idle left medical school to become a journalist for neuroscience. He has done well in his field, becoming a go-to journalist after writing a series of articles about a capitalist with ties to the military who is developing how to store secrets inside the fallow part of the human brain. Nate does discover that a local San Francisco company called PRISM is working with a local home for troubled teens, helping them to multitask with their brains and to adapt to the onslaught of computer information. While waiting in a San Francisco subway, Nate is attacked by a man who leaves behind a piece of paper with his name and that of a PRISM worker named Sandy Vello who works with these troubled teens and who may have been hit by a car and killed. A woman named Faith helps Nate after his subway accident as does his office mate Samantha Leary and her husband, Dennis, who enjoys meeting Nate after hours in the Pastime Bar. Nate's subway accident leaves him with a form of second sight. Can he deal with what PRISM is developing? Can Nate also deal with the reality of his estranged wife Polly and their young son Isaac?

    "The Cloud" by Matt Richtel is a well-written thriller that looks into what technology might do to people's lives and behaviors. Main character Nate Idle and his friends Samantha and Dennis Leary are anchors in this story filled with characters who may or may not be "good guys". That a company is developing a technology that purports to expand unused areas of the brain is a scary theme and one well-developed by the author. The subplot of Nate and his private life is well-integrated into the major storyline and thriller readers who can deal with "what ifs" will immediately put "The Cloud" on their must-read list.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2013

    ?

    Rambling story. Hard to follow. Annoying medical informatiom at every turn. No reason for to read if you don't enjoy difficult to read novels.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2013

    Can i rp lightkit?

    Respond to annonymous

    1 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2014

    Roman

    Roman took a last go and tore his claws down Goldenstripes back, grinning as his creamy white paws were stained red. He used his back claws to do the same to his belly. Then he again vanished into a misty cloud and went into the night air.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2014

    Lilywolf

    Feeling awkward, Lily follows Golenstripe home, keeping a careful eye on his injuries. ~ Lilywolf &hearts

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2014

    Goldenstripe

    Goldenstripe smiled at her offer but shook his head. "I'll make it, I'vee seen worse. But thanks," he purred and stood. Goldenstripe led the way home at a slower pace than normal, trying not to limp as much as possible.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2014

    Cloudy

    "Anytime." Cloudripple smiled. "Let's get back to camp."
    (Night!)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2014

    Ebony to all

    May i join

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2014

    devil

    She smiled "its at Twelfth night res 2 or one."sh padded out
    (I htg for alittlebe back in a sec.)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2014

    Pinerise

    Hm.. fly res one maybe

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2014

    Thunderstar

    Hey

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2014

    Bloodmoon

    To Firestorm: Obviously you cant read cause that said BloodFUR not BloodMOON. Not to mention that isnt even a Bloodclan cat. <p> to Stormwind: We have thoughs as well. Just because I didnt say it doesnt mean we dont have it. Most of the cats that I have met in Bloodclan are the best warriors. They will defend their clan with their life and take risks that others wouldnt. You dont know us so dont judge us. Its true that some of Bloodclan isnt great but until you've been in Bloodclan and been through what we have, rl and rp, than you coudnt possably understand.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2014

    Fox 困

    Walked in.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014

    TO THUNDERSTAR

    There was ready someone who tried that! And guess what? It got disbanded. There is only ONE Pact for a reason. Try and make another one, and you'lll have all five pact clans, plus a tribe and rouge group against you.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2014

    Lunakit

    (Im ignoring you. I hate godmodders. Hope you find that offensive.)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2014

    Midnight

    She sighed "man i thought we were gonna raid!" She says a little angrey

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2014

    Raven

    "Let's go! Where is it devil?"

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2014

    Silvermoonstar

    (How was tha godmoding? Whatever bi_tch)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 93 Customer Reviews

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