Heather's Reviews > Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
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's review
Aug 30, 2012

it was amazing
Read from August 30 to September 18, 2012

Ok truthfully, I would have liked to give this one a 4.5, but first world problems.

So anyhoot, everyone was freaking out about the 5 minute trailer for the movie adaptation, and I watched it and was like, okay I have no idea why they're freaking out. But then I thought, if they're all freaking out, maybe I should read the book. Now I know why they were freaking out.

Book is a lovely series of interconnected vignettes starting in the 1800s and segueing into a dystopian future. Due to the leaps in time and different narrators, each one is written in a sort of different style. Eg, the first is some guy sailing on a boat from Australia back to the US in the 1800s and by the end we're up to a post-"fall" future community of who speak in some sort of invented futuristic Huck Finn-ese. To which end, I've read reviews/notes saying that Mitchell did a marvelous job writing in the different voices/styles of each section.

Which is true, but more important, I think when I embarked on the book I wish I'd known this: Yes, each vignette is interconnected, but they also each end abruptly, like something stopped them right in the middle for one reason or another. Then you move onto the next one. Which is kinda jarring and a little bit frustrating (if each new one weren't also good and thus able to get you over the hump of wondering what the gimmick is for cutting the previous section off mid-story). But the important point is: the middle story actually goes all the way through from start to finish, and then you descend back in time, picking up each story where you left off. Then it's pertinent/bittersweet/whatever to climb back down through time back to the beginning, knowing what you know about where things go in the future.

Had I known that one little bit of info, I wouldn't have felt quite so unsettled with the rug being pulled out from under me each time one section ended. But unlike other books with a change or narrator in each chapter (I'm looking at you Game of Thrones), this one maintains its momentum. It becomes quickly apparent what the connection is between the previous story and the follow up, so you feel like you're getting somewhere. And then by the end, once you realize the mirror effect, you're rushing to get to the end to see how they all tie in.

Anyhow, long story short, it was really quite good, very interesting, poignant, pretty, lovely. I loved the interconnectedness between each story, how each character's issues/interests somehow impacted the next one's lives, or what they look like in light of knowing how the future played out. Makes you think about the ocean of time, good versus evil in humanity, issues, and just get overwhelmed by loveliness. There's a lot of beauty to the book, and now having read it, when I see the trailer, it looks like the Wachowksis did a really beautiful job adapting it. V excited to see the movie.
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