Friday, September 14, 2007

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Rating: 7/10

Published: 2004
Number of pages: 529
ISBN: 0340822783

Started: 1 September 2007
Finished: 11 September 2007

Summary (taken from blurb):

'Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies...' Six interlocking lives - one amazing adventure. In a narrative that circles the globe and reaches from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of time, genre and language to offer an enthralling vision of humanity's will to power, and where it will lead us.

I don't think I fell in love with this book as a lot of other people seem to have, but it was a good read and I'm glad I read it. I definitely enjoyed some sections more than others (I guess that's always going to be a problem in a book that's made up of such completely different stories), but I enjoyed picking up on the little 'clues' linking the stories together. I also really liked the closing comments of Adam Ewing's Journal/the book.

One part I had trouble getting into was the first part of Adam Ewing's Journal. It was a difficult section to lead into the book with, but once I got past that it picked up, particularly with the second story, Letters from Zedelghem. This was the most enjoyable section for me; Robert Frobisher's character was probably the least likable but his letters were so witty and enjoyable to read that I could look past all that.

I struggled a bit with The First Luisa Rey Mystery because it was so terribly cliched. The entire thing reminded me of a bad movie. The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish didn't really affect me one way or another. I quite enjoyed The Orison of Sonmi-451. I love dystopian literature and comparing different futures. This one gave me more food for thought. I also had trouble with Sloosha's Crossing, mostly because of the colloquial style of the language, and because it was the middle section, it was unbroken so I didn't even get a break from it!

There were a few major themes running throughout all of the stories: reincarnation (the comet-shaped birthmark), betrayal, inequality, imprisonment, and the progress of mankind through the ages and the struggles of minorities to gain acceptance and freedom.

I know I've said a few bad things about this book and I think ultimately that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts, but overall it was an enjoyable experience,. It's definitely a very ambitious novel for anyone to undertake, and I think David Mitchell did really well linking the various stories together. Recommended.

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