Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas

by David Mitchell
4.0 421

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Cloud Atlas 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 421 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very rarely have I encountered such a masterpiece of storytelling. Each of the six stories is complete , yet is so tightly interwoven into the others that you simply can't put the book down. I can honestly say that I would not recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick and easy story. The allusions, the shifts in dialect, and the gallops across time periods and cultures require a level attention that the casual reader might find alarming. However, if you're a deep thinker and you want a book that will make you examine your connection to the past, present, and future, this is the book for you!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don't be frightened off by reviews citing the book's 'experimental' nature. While not perfect, in 'Cloud Atlas' Mitchell moves seemlessly from voice to voice and finds a way to make six very different narratives almost equally engaging. Yes, there is a momentary sense of frustration when moving from one truncated section to the next (one even ends mid-sentence), but it's easy to get past this once sucked into the next thread. Mitchell drops enough breadcrumbs in the first half of the book to imply a reward for enduring the interuptions, and indeed he delivers on several levels: the literal linking of the narratives (whether they be manuscripts or sci-fi holographs), the philosophical/spiritual implications of reincarnation or distant relation, the unfortunate consistency of human oppression, and the dependence of all fiction (including history) on what has been created before. A tad of environmental preachiness here and there where the narrative itself would have sufficed evinced a few sighs here, but none of consequence. And some of the homages may be mistaken for derivative writing (Melville, Orwell and Huxley foremost), but in fact they form the basis for a more profound relation than that between the six narratives themselves, as 'Cloud Atlas' itself admits to being admits to being another legend drawn from legends. Mitchell has used a technique similar to that of Italo Calvino in 'If on a Winter's Night a Traveler' and pushed it beyond creative novelty. He infuses the novel with a rational, integrated plot structure that, beyond giving the reader a feeling that in the end it all 'makes sense,' itself adds a deeper layer of meaning.
TomYork92 More than 1 year ago
Teen. A Very interesting premise of 6 stories nested in one another, all in a different genre. Intertwined stories going from the past to the near future, to the apocalyptic future - all detailing man's greed and how the selfish nature of humanity leads to a downfall. If you appreciate a variety of books, this one is a great read with strong characters and a sense of humanity underlying the stories.
FocoProject More than 1 year ago
There are books that just¿grab you by the throat and pick you up and slam you over the desk time and time again and leave you all disheveled, with a weird tingly feeling in the nether regions and the idea that you have just had your mind blown.

This is such a book. Or at least it was for me. Imagine taking Italo Calvino¿s ¿If on a winter¿s night a traveler¿ concept and actually wrapping it up. Those of you familiar with the Calvino novel know that he took essentially like¿ten stories and started telling them to you before it is somehow hopelessly interrupted and another story is started. Here, Mitchell writes what some people have referred to as a Russian Doll of a novel. You know those dolls you can open up at the middle and then there is another doll inside of it, and then you open that one up and HEY! another doll and then you open up that one and WTF!!! yet another doll and so forth? Yeah, this is sort of like that.

There are six stories, all of them spanning about a century and a half in history, maybe a little bit more. Six stories that may seem entirely unrelated, though, as you read into them, you begin to see just how tightly interwoven they all are. There are subtle references and some very overt ones, but part of the joy in this book is reading foreshadowing and not even knowing it because it applies to another story you have not even started.

The stories, even separated from the over all work are all very intriguing, each with its own challenges. Some thrilling, some amusing, some gripping, some outright wild, Mitchell switches gears on you better than an F-1 racer and he leaves you wanting more. Fortunately, unlike Calvino, he takes you to the end, and then bothers to come right back and give everything else a respectable wrap. The only thing is, the very first story, which takes place just before the turn of the 20th century, as are all of the other stories, is written in a era-specific fashion. Be prepared to learn a whole new vocabulary. I literally had to sit by the computer in this one and look stuff up. But after that, the language becomes a lot more familiar¿that is until you get to the stories that are told in the future and then even a dictionary won¿t help. A buy, hands down.
ABookAWeekES More than 1 year ago
I came upon this book through the recommendation of a friend. He warned me that it would be unlike any novel I had read before, so I entered this story with excitement and curiosity. In Cloud Atlas, author David Mitchell has proved that he has the technical capabilities to write anything that his heart desires. A master of construction and dialect, Mitchell combines six separate stories into a fascinating novel that spans from the 19th century to a distant future. The novel begins with the story of Adam Ewing, an American notary who is on a ship, headed home. Presented as Ewing's personal journal, Mitchell wonderfully captures the voice of a homesick man, full of religious zeal. When a black, foreign stowaway is discovered on board, Ewing fights to keep the man away from the harm and racism of the captain and crew. When Adam begins to feel ill, his only friend on the boat, Dr. Henry Goose, begins to treat him for a "poisonous worm" living inside of him. With the threat of death, Ewing struggles to maintain his morality in the seemingly sinful environment of the ship. Abruptly, the novel jumps to the early 20th century with the letters of a young aspiring English composer, Robert Frobisher. He finds himself in Belgium, short of financial stability and a clear musical direction. He seeks out local composer Vyvyan Ayers, whose music he sees a revolutionary, to become a kind of understudy to the ailing composer. Ayers accepts the offer and begins to have Frobisher assist him in writing new music. Unfortunately, Robert finds himself in the middle of a forbidden affair, and begins to feel that Ayers is taking advantage of his own musical ideas. The story of young American journalist Luisa Rey, reads like a fast paced thriller. The year is 1975 and Luisa, who is struggling to overcome the shadow cast by her famous journalist father, believes she has found the story that will provide her with her big break. As she attempts to uncover the reported corruption of a local nuclear company, she finds herself entangled in a web of conspiracy, love, and murder. Timothy Cavendish is a sixty-something publisher who finds unexpected success after his client, a gangster who recently published his memoirs with Cavendish's company, murders a critic at a local event. The client, of course, is sent to jail, and the novel becomes a bestseller. With his newfound wealth, Timothy seems to be living the high life. When the brothers of his client attempt to violently persuade Cavendish to give them the money from their imprisoned brother's book, he flees the city. Unfortunately, he mistakes a nursing home for a hotel and finds himself unable to escape. Sonmi-451, a genetic fabricant, created to serve food in a fast food restaurant of the dystopian future, is being interviewed about her escape and rebellion of the established society. She tells of how she was able to leave the restaurant, and discover how she, and others like her, have been taken advantage of by the established society. As she amasses knowledge she was never supposed to posses, she begins to feel emotions and make human connections that were never intended to be possible. In the very distant future, we find Zachary, a primitive member of a tribe who is learning to face his fears in this strange world. After the death of his father and the capturing of his sibling, he blames himself for not preventing the attack. When a woman, a visitor from another group of people who seems to have more "knowledge" than Zachary's tribe, moves in with his family, he must face new threats to his tribe's beliefs and ways of life. The stories, except for the one about Zachary, are all interrupted in the middle, giving the novel a kind of ABCDEFEDCBA arc. Mitchell ties this all together by making each new character the witness, mostly through reading, of the previous character's story. I think that each character could also be interpreted as a reincarnation of the previous because they all seem to share a similar birth mark. With each story, the author adapts to a different style of narrative, making some of the tales read easier than others. Notably, the strong dialect of the middle character makes his story nearly impossible to comprehend. Despite his ingenious presentation and construction, I couldn't help but feeling a bit disappointed at this end of this. The novel can be such a chore to read, that I didn't feel that I got some revolutionary message at the end of this, otherwise, expertly crafted story. Despite being glad that I took the time to read this unique novel, I can't help but wonder if my time would have been better spent reading something with a deeper meaning.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When you find a book that makes you feel like you have actually exercised your brain cells and maybe even generated some new ones, it is a gift. I loved the fact that I had to use the lookup feature on my Nook on occasion, as well as immerse myself in unfamiliar yet really fun language. I am a sucker for inter-connected stories and characters, and this book makes it all fit. I highly recommend Cloud Atlas and kept finding ways to sneak in pages here and there whenever I couldn't just curl up with it. This is not a quick, light, frothy read. It's an intelligent, meaty, ponder it later kind of novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was recommended by a brilliant friend. It is by far one of the most amazing, creative, unforgettable books I have read of late. Read it.
goodgirlheroineaddict More than 1 year ago
With the rave reviews I was expecting a lot. True - David Mitchell is a skilled writer and was able to showboat a depth of knowledge on a variety of topics. But I found myself wanting to skim and skip forward with the hope of establishing a deeper attachment to the plot(s). And I'm not a skimmer - I'm generally respectful of an authors style to the point of honoring a storytellers technique to the end. Not sure what to say except it was certainly unique in method, albeit confusing and consequently dull.
dolche More than 1 year ago
Like a rollicking seafaring yarn? Like a good detective story? Like a futuristic sci-fi tale? Good because they are all in this book plus three more genres. Don't get too comfortable, though, because the author switches from one to the next at critical plot points. At first this drove me crazy but after the third switch, I settled in and just enjoyed the ride. The sixth story proceeds without interruption. And then each story picks up again in reverse order until readers wind up back where we started. Each of the six stories is linked to the next and the writing throughout is stunning. I finished this book with great regret. All of the main characters are memorable and each story could stand on its own but I think about Sonmi-451, Zach'ry and Meronym often. Highly recommended.
Jack13152 More than 1 year ago
Phenomenal. Best book I read in 2011. Connects the past, present and future in unique way. A scary real fiction
Guest More than 1 year ago
While away at a company retreat, I often felt speechless when my co-workers would come up to me and say 'Whats the book about?' After many attempts of describing 'Cloud Atlas' to an array of people, I eventually fell back to the most simplisitc answer and yet poignant description of the book. I sheephishly responded with a non-delibrate patronzing remark 'It's a Novel'. To fully understand Cloud Atlas, you have to fully engross yourself with the letters of a sinister Robert Frobrisher, you have to get inside Adam Smiths mind bending torture, you need to sit shotgun with one Luisa Rey, you need to escape with one insistent and hilarious brit, Timothy Cavendash. Serve and volley the grand scientific question of our age (cloning) with Sonmi, and to be whisked away with Zachary and Moreynmon on an epic adventure through the blue skies, filled with white clouds. This my dear friend is the only way to describe something so treasured as this ingenuis literature. And for all you Passing souls who passed through this journey already, well you know what I mean when ask 'How do you describe the indescibable?'
PhillyReaderSL More than 1 year ago
Cloud Atlas is made up of 6 stories and each one will have you wanting to read more. Just as you get into each story and the suspense builds, the next story begins and you have to wait until the story finishes at the end. This book is kind of an undertaking. It's definitely worth it, but it's a long book and the stories are very different. It also takes time to get into each story as it is set up and you get used to the characters. I think that while I enjoyed Cloud Atlas greatly, this particular of distinct stories covering the sands of time (i.e. Gods of Men) is not something I will partake in again. I tend not to like short stories because as soon as you get into the story, it seems to end abruptly - that is to say the endings can leave you shortchanged. Having said all that, this book will leave you wanting to find out what happens in each story and *incredibly* surprised at the turns of events.
vnella More than 1 year ago
Here is a collection of vaguely linked stories that come together in a universal truth. Absolutely enthralling!
Mupples More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mitchell is a Shakespeare of style, which is one way to describe his dramatic uses of different writing styles that encapsulate the cultural periods and classes from which they emerge. Usually this correlation of style and context seem organic: for instance, readers assume that a certain eighteenth-century writer would naturally speak or write in a distinctive way. But when a plot travels across cultures and across historical periods and into imaginary futures, only a grand dramatist and a great intelligence can create styles that seem so natural to these fictional worlds. It's one thing to seem to reproduce letters written from Colonialist ship travels in the 19th-century Pacific. It's another skill entirely to create a post-Apocalyptic language for civilization's last remnants. Mature post-modernism, although not profound. Delightful.
Laine-librariancanreadtoo More than 1 year ago
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"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A miracle of fiction
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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 .  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"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.
SabsDkPrncs More than 1 year ago
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.
readandexist More than 1 year ago
Quite possibly the best thing i've ever read. A how to manual for writing with balls. Read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.