Simon's Reviews > Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
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Sep 14, 11

bookshelves: sf-and-fantasy
Read in September, 2011

Maybe my expectations were raised too high by the ludicrous amounts of praise this book has received, but I really don't get it. People seem to be bowled over by the fact that each different story is written in a different style, which to me seems a perfectly natural approach to take. And the "cleverness" of the russian doll structure and the way in which characters in one story refer to characters in another seems to me to be fairly superficial and without real meaning or significance. The connections between the different strands are tenuous in the extreme. There's a common thread about the oppression of the underclass by the wealthy and powerful, and on the final page (don't worry, not really a spoiler) we get a kind of thematic summing up which basically amounts to "people should try to be nicer to each other".
Individual segments are involving and technically accomplished, and it's occasionally funny. The futuristic section interested me most, even if the ideas about clones and consumerism were nothing new, but the central, post-apocalyptic story is written in so thick a dialect as to be almost unreadable.
Unless there's some deeper meaning I've missed out on (anyone?), I'll stick to my first impression that this is technically accomplished but pretentious and ultimately empty.
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