Kemper's Reviews > Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
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Sep 01, 12

bookshelves: 2012, modern-lit, sci-fi, favorites
Read in September, 2012

I have no idea if the movie version of Cloud Atlas will be any good, but it was worth making just so we could get that excellent trailer. In fact, they probably shouldn’t even release the movie. Just use the trailer to promote the book. It worked on me because once I saw that thing I couldn’t get this read fast enough.

An American notary crosses the Pacific and encounters many unsavory characters in the mid-1800s. In 1931 a young man fleeing his creditors cons his way into the home of a respected composer. A female journalists tries to expose a dangerous conspiracy involving a nuclear reactor back in 1975. In the early 21st century an aging publisher finds himself in hot water after his biggest professional success. The near future has an Asian society based on corporations using genetically modified fabricants as slave labor, and the far future finds a young man in Hawaii living a primitive tribal lifestyle playing tour guide to a woman from a place that still has technology.

These are the six stories that David Mitchell links together. They’re nested one within another and also mirrored in the first and second half of the book. If that’s all that he accomplished here, then it’d just be a really clever way to structure a novel, but it’s the way that Mitchell hit six completely different tones yet uses the same themes in each that the book really shines.

I’m beyond impressed with the way he made each story feel like it’s own separate tale. If someone had told me that this was a book written by six different authors, I would have believed it, and each is intriguing in it’s own right. Themes of slavery and people being controlled in one way or another along with depictions of misused or corrupted power come up again and again, but whether it feels like serious dystopian sci-fi or a beach read thriller, Mitchell makes it all hang together until it really does feel like one epic tale. And the thoughts at the conclusion lead to one of the greatest ending lines I’ve ever read.

I don’t even think I need to see the movie now.
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Comments (showing 1-38 of 38) (38 new)

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Stephanie You went 5 - agreed! But I am going to see the movie.


Kemper Stephanie wrote: "You went 5 - agreed! But I am going to see the movie."

Oh, I will too. But even if it sucks, I'm glad it got made because it ended up motivating me to read this.


B0nnie I love this book...


message 4: by Trudi (new) - added it

Trudi Wow, okay I'm convinced.


message 5: by Dan (new) - added it

Dan Schwent I'm convinced unless Katrina Lumsden writes a review saying it sucks.


message 6: by Trudi (new) - added it

Trudi ;)


Stephanie Dan wrote: "I'm convinced unless Katrina Lumsden writes a review saying it sucks."

Ha! You cannot go against The Katrina.


Terry Welcome to Team Mitchell Kemp! :)


Nicholas Read this book for the exact same reasons you did and was equally surprised. Mitchell nailed each genre as if he were a genre writer his whole life. I especially enjoyed the tale of timothy cavendish. hilarious and horrifying!


Kemper Terry wrote: "Welcome to Team Mitchell Kemp! :)"

Thanks. Any recommendations for what I should try by him next?


Kemper Nicholas wrote: "Read this book for the exact same reasons you did and was equally surprised. Mitchell nailed each genre as if he were a genre writer his whole life. I especially enjoyed the tale of timothy cavendi..."

Yeah, it was. It reminded me of Martin Amis's Money in a way.


Terry Kemper wrote: "Terry wrote: "Welcome to Team Mitchell Kemp! :)"

Thanks. Any recommendations for what I should try by him next?"


Hmm Ghostwritten is great, but in many ways seems like a first try at what he does in CA, so to get a different flavour you might want to try number9dream.


Jason My next David Mitchell is going to be Black Swan Green.


Jason That's going to be third in my list, and then I'll go back to Ghostwritten and number9dream later.


message 16: by Carol (last edited Sep 03, 2012 01:12PM) (new)

Carol Thanks for the excellent review. I have it on my Kindle. Movies do tend to lack so much of the detail, charm and richness of a book. And this one may not make sense as a movie.


Terry Kemper wrote: "How about The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet?"

Haven't read that one yet, but it's on my short list.


Jason Carol wrote: "Thanks for the excellent review. I have it on my Kindle. Movies do tend to lack so much of the detail, charm and richness of a book. And this one may not make sense as a movie."

I think that it would be too easy for a film adaptation to usurp the "connected souls" part of the book and run with it, as it can be used for tear-jerking, which would be a shame because I think that was probably a minor theme in the novel compared to all the other stuff: human slavery and captivity, rise & fall of civilization due to human's quest for power, etc.


message 19: by Tim (new) - added it

Tim Ok I'm going to take a stab at this. Based off your reviews in the past that were spot on and your Avatar is archer, I think it's worth the risk.


message 20: by Trudi (new) - added it

Trudi That's an avatar? You mean this isn't you, Kemper?


Kemper Tim wrote: "Ok I'm going to take a stab at this. Based off your reviews in the past that were spot on and your Avatar is archer, I think it's worth the risk."

I hope you like it but I advise you to read the disclaimer on my profile page.


Kemper Trudi wrote: "That's an avatar? You mean this isn't you, Kemper?"

Me and Archer are virtually interchangeable.


message 23: by Trudi (new) - added it

Trudi What a relief. Couldn't handle having the fantasy ruined.


Stephanie Trudi wrote: "What a relief. Couldn't handle having the fantasy ruined."

*sigh* true!


message 25: by Noran (new) - added it

Noran Miss Pumkin Great review, as always! You convinced me to give this title a try in the new year. I just have too many books waiting their turn. Then as I am trying to fall asleep-hubby tells me about an article about libraries having to fight bedbug infestations of their collections. Oh my poor books!!!!


Corey Thank you, Kemper, for such an awesome review. I can't wait to read the book. Just don't have the funds to get it just yet and my local library has a long wait list. Thanks again.


Kemper Noran wrote: "Great review, as always! You convinced me to give this title a try in the new year. I just have too many books waiting their turn. Then as I am trying to fall asleep-hubby tells me about an arti..."

Mount To-Read has become unclimbable for me too.


Kemper Corey wrote: "Thank you, Kemper, for such an awesome review. I can't wait to read the book. Just don't have the funds to get it just yet and my local library has a long wait list. Thanks again."

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Carey Shea Love your review. I will read it since reading your review. It's in my to-read shelf. Thanks.


Cecily Nice review. I was pleasantly surprised by the film, but I was glad I'd read the book first (twice). I think The Thousand Autumns would make a very good film (and be easier to adapt).


Corey I finished the book. I check it out from my school library last fall and finished the book in just a couple of weeks. It was so very good and very much worth the wait. The movie was ok but I, too, am happy that I read the book first before watching the movie. Worth re- reading this coming fall.


Kemper I've had a couple of people tell me that the movie was worth watching. I need to check it out sometime.


Jonathan Peto Kemper wrote: "I've had a couple of people tell me that the movie was worth watching. I need to check it out sometime."

Me too.


Stacia Kemper wrote: "I've had a couple of people tell me that the movie was worth watching. I need to check it out sometime."

Loved both the book and the movie.


message 35: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason L. So... it's been a year now, did you watched the film? I loved it and bought a copy of the book instantly, but it's lying still on my shelf. I took a sneak peak of the post-apocalypse chapter and the peculiar language frightened me.


Kemper Jason wrote: "So... it's been a year now, did you watched the film? I loved it and bought a copy of the book instantly, but it's lying still on my shelf. I took a sneak peak of the post-apocalypse chapter and t..."

Yeah, I finally saw it and was pretty let down. It had some good scenes here and there, but overall I didn't felt like it came anywhere close to the book.


Corey What!? The movie, in my opinion, is better than the book. It did, in fact, fall into place and followed the book nicely... especially the character of Luisa Rey and her story in the 70's. And, I read the book before I watched the movie. The language can be a little scary in the Post-Ap chapter at first but, as is the case when you start reading a really good book, it just falls into place and becomes easier to read and understand as the chapter goes on.
The movie was great! I have it on bluray and would much rather watch it over and over again than read the book again (although the book wasn't too bad).


message 38: by Kemper (last edited Nov 26, 2014 07:34AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kemper Corey wrote: "What!? The movie, in my opinion, is better than the book...."

Not for me. Too many bad accents and bad wigs, and not nearly enough of the emotional resonance I got from the book.


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