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Cloud Atlas

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  211,473 ratings  ·  19,176 reviews
An alternate cover for this edition can be found here and here.

The narrators hear their echoes in history and change their destinies in ways great and small, in a study of humanity's dangerous will to power. A reluctant voyager crosses the Pacific in 1850. A disinherited composer gatecrashes in between-wars Belgium. A vanity publisher flees gangland creditors. Others are
Paperback, 529 pages
Published February 21st 2005 by Sceptre (first published March 2004)
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Praveen Initially it seems this novel is not taking you anywhere...the language of the first part is that used in the early nineteenth century. From second ch…moreInitially it seems this novel is not taking you anywhere...the language of the first part is that used in the early nineteenth century. From second chapter onward the language changes as the time period of the narration advances ahead through 21st century and beyond and then after the ------------.
For me it was such a pleasant journey going through this book that I did not feel like picking up any other book...for fear of spoiling my taste.
Do read it..I assure you you will remember it for a long long time!(less)
Peterh David Mitchell himself admits that the structure of Cloud Atlas was inspired by Italo Calvino's "If On A Winter's Night, A Traveler." Calvino isn't te…moreDavid Mitchell himself admits that the structure of Cloud Atlas was inspired by Italo Calvino's "If On A Winter's Night, A Traveler." Calvino isn't technically a current writer (he died in 1985), but if you liked Cloud Atlas, I'd strongly recommend him anyway.(less)

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May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite-books

This book proves David Mitchell can be any writer he chooses. The six novellas that comprise Cloud Atlas are forgeries - and they are original. Each adopts the voice of a distinct author. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but all of the parts are superb. It is a sextet, like the one found within the novel, with piano, clarinet, cello, flute, oboe, and violin - every individual instrument pleasing, but when played altogether becomes something different and brilliant - the Cloud Atl
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: i wouldn't
Recommended to Jenn(ifer) by: they didn't

Dear David Mitchell,
I’ve been trying to figure out the nicest possible way to tell you what I’m about to tell you. I sort of feel like I’ve failed you as a reader, but I just couldn’t suspend my critical mind for long enough to enjoy your book (“how I envied my uncritical…sisters” – I hate it when my own words come back to bite me in the ass, don’t you?). Don’t take it personally though. I’m the girl who didn't like The Matrix. I know, right? How could anyone dislike The Matrix? All of the neat-
Neil Powell
Jun 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
Several short stories, that on their own are relatively weak. The author has linked them together tenuously with some mistakenly profound pseudo-religious nonsense and a tattoo. An interesting idea, let down by the poor quality of the writing. Pretentious twaddle of the highest order

This book seems to be one of those hoaxes to call out hack reviewers. I'm slightly puzzled by the fact that Mitchell hasn't come forward yet six years after publication.
He hits all the usual clichés that are the hal
Nov 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: snoot, escape, favorites
On re-reading in 2012...

I admit, the surpringsingly-and-terrifyingly-not-awful trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation of this book sent me plunging back into its hexapalindromic universe to re-solidify my own mental renditions of Frobisher's bicycle, Sonmi's soap packs, and Lousia's imaginary California, among other things. I emerge even more impressed with Mitchell's mimetic acrobatics, the book's deft allusive integument ("Is not ascent their sole salvation?" p. 512), the acrimonious satire
All autumn, with the release date of movie adaptation of Cloud Atlas fast approaching, interest in the novel among my Goodreads friends has been high. I have not seen many subdued reactions. Fans of Mitchell discuss his ability adeptly to assume so many different voices and styles, the intricacy of the novel’s structure, and the relevance of its themes for today. Detractors have dismissed Cloud Atlas as gimmicky, a work by a much-hyped writer who is showing off his style but neglecting to anchor ...more
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: distant-lands
**okay - i have actually written a "review" for this book, all you early bird voters! feel free to take back your picture-votes if you hate my words (and by "feel free," i mean "don't you dare!!")**

why have i never read this book before??


do you see how it is wedged into a teetering, lode-bearing stack of books??

removing it was a tricky business, indeed, but i succeeded, and i am finally reading it. so thank you for badgering me about it, internet, because so far, i am really enjoying it!
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nataliya by: Kris
I was a third into this book and I could not care less about it. It didn't seem we were meant to be.

Then suddenly my heart was aching for the characters and their stories, and it did catch me by surprise.

And now it's been a week since I finished it, and I still find myself thinking about it. 'Okay, you win, book!' I have to admit grudgingly. You've wormed your way into my heart and I'd better make my peace with it.

Why did I resist liking it so much? Why did this book and I have such a rocky sta
At the Museum of Science in Boston, there is an exhibit just outside the doors of the Planetarium that demonstrates—through a series of adjacent panels—the scale of the Earth in relation to the universe at large. The first panel shows the Earth’s location in the Solar System (as a microscopic dot, mind you), which is followed by a second panel showing the Solar System’s location in the Milky Way (also microscopic). The third panel is of the galaxy’s location in its Supercluster or whateverthefuc ...more
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
One of the most outstanding, hugely epic literary sagas ever. There seem to be six distinct writers in "Cloud Atlas"--distinct, original, "where the heck did these come from?"-type tableaux: their compilation suggesting that the boundaries of writing are endless. Mitchell is authentic in every story. These really are "found objects" placed in blatant, cunning contrast with each other. But that they were all borne from one fountainhead--from one single and chameleonic (probably the most chameleon ...more
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield sit having breakfast in a diner discussing, among other things, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

Jules: Well we'd have to be talkin' about one charming mother*****' pig. I mean he'd have to be ten times more charmin' than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I'm sayin'?

[Both laugh]

Vincent: Awright, check this out; I just finished reading this book called Cloud Atlas.

Jules: Cloud Atlas? What the f*** is that?

Vincent: It’s a pictorial key to the nomenclature of c
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Humanity
“One may transcend any convention,” writes Mitchell’s 1930’s composer Robert Frobisher, “if only one can first conceive of doing so.” Cloud Atlas, the third novel by English novelist David Mitchell, is the author’s bare-knuckled blow to standard conventions and literature itself. Here you will encounter six stories, linked across time, that, like individual notes of a chord, each resonate together to form a greater message than just the sum of their parts. Using a style inspired by Calvino’s If ...more
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
pile story atop story, set 'em in different time periods, offer up a thin connection between each, and everything seems a bit more than it is. for me cloud atlas is exactly the sum of its parts. maybe less? (i'd love to hire 6 authors to independently write 6 stories set in different time periods, throw the whole mess together as one work, and watch people find all kinds of connections and deeper meanings. they would. they could.)

now don't get me wrong, i love all that 'russian doll' tale-within
This is definitely a book that is richer with rereading, but I still prefer his "Ghostwritten" (, which has significant echoes of this.


It’s often described as a matryoshka doll or a turducken, but that’s not the best analogy, imo.
Imagine six very different short books, each open at roughly the middle, then pile them up - and that is the structure of Cloud Atlas (story 1a, 2a, 3a, 4a, 5a, 6, 5b, 4b, 3b, 2b, 1b). The structure is echoed in this c
Hey readers...

Look at the book you're reading... back to me.

Now back at the book you're reading... back at me.

Sadly, that book was (probably) not written by me. But if you'd check out my book, Cloud Atlas, you'd know that I could have written it if I just wanted to. Look back at the book...

...and now back up. Who's that?

That's me, the author of Cloud Atlas, which is the book you could have been reading. What's in your hand?

It's Cloud Atlas, which is a historical novel about a pacific
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Cloud Atlas is layered, complex, uniquely structured, occasionally puzzling, often moving, and definitely not for the faint of heart. It's famously (or infamously) structured with a sextet of interconnected stories that range from the mid-1800s to the distant future.
Spent the fortnight gone in the music room, reworking my year's fragments into a 'sextet for overlapping soloists': piano, clarinet, 'cello, flute, oboe and violin, each in its own language of key, scale, and color. In the first set,
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tomorrow I will never see, though I have no wings I fly free. Of what I dream no one can know, I am but a container for a rainbow.
Stories are clouds… The same story told by a different raconteur changes form and it may also change a meaning.
I watched clouds awobbly from the floor o’ that kayak. Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, an’ tho’ a cloud’s shape nor hue nor size don’t stay the same, it’s still a cloud an’ so is a soul. Who can say where the cloud’s blowed from or who the soul’ll b
Natalia Yaneva
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bulgarian review below/Ревюто на български е по-долу
You probably wonder now and then if the chords of your soul reverberate through time. I do too. Or if those 21 grams caught in several dozen kilos of flesh fly away like startled little birds when our time to go strikes. Maybe that’s also possible. We probably haven’t awaken to such a degree of consciousness as to know the answer of this question and to be drawn to some hypothetical ‘beyond’ instead to the quite material and palpable ‘now’.
Ahmad Sharabiani
13. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
‭Cloud Atlas, c2004, David (Stephen) Mitchell (1969)
characters: Adam Ewing, Autua, Dr. Goose, Robert Frobisher, Rufus Sixsmith
Abstract: A postmodern visionary who is also a master of styles and genres, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventures, a Nabokovian love of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction t
Emily May
Aug 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, 2012
Cloud Atlas is a book which is not particularly easy to read, requires patience and perseverance, but is ultimately very rewarding. It is a story spanning more than one hundred years that combines an entertaining - even humourous - plot with far bigger and more important issues like slavery and exploitation. The novel's language changes and develops with time and every new character introduced is as fresh and interesting as all those who came before. In the end, it is pure genius. It is also not ...more
Jun 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 respecte
Ian "Marvin" Graye
In Memory of Double Bills

I saw a lot of double bills in the heyday of independent cinemas.

They weren’t just two current release films that had been packaged to eke out some extra dollars for the exhibitor. They were carefully curated films that shared a theme and formed part of a whole season of similarly matched films.

Usually, the season was promoted by a poster that illustrated each film with a fifty word capsule review. For many years, I kept these posters in a folder, at least until I got ma
Algernon (Darth Anyan)

I finished the book 10 days ago, and I still hesitate to start this review. The first reason is that I loved the book so much, I am left with a feeling of inadequacy :

The second reason is the nature of the story. I can't begin to explain why I think this is important to me without going into the message / the core of the narrative. All the stories assembled into this map of clouds/beliefs/attitudes are variations on a given theme, and the interrupted nature of the narrative is important in maint
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-english
Given that to review Cloud Atlas has become a perilous activity in GR, since it can elicit all kinds of backlashes and from a variety of stands, I will only include an innocent declaration of intent.

In respect to the book and to the following incumbents: the author David Mitchell, the publisher, the editors, the printers, any reading groups, any member readers in GR, whether friends or followed or followers, any member of Management in GR, and even, yes! even the new owners of GR.

I, Kalliope of
1. Counting
I don’t remember exactly when I learnt to count. It feels like one of my earliest memories, and one of my most profound. Things started to make sense right there and then. That mountain of peas on my plate felt a lot less menacing when I could count that there were only 36 of them. My collection of Dinky Toys was all the more impressive when I realized I had a whopping 24 miniature cars to play with. My enjoyment of candies increased when I realised 5 became 4 and 4 become 0 real quic
3 conflicted stars !

Gosh I struggled with this book.

Is this book well written? No doubt about it.

Is this book overwritten and too stylized? At times, yes it was.

Were the stories wonderfully original? Yes they were.

Did the stories fail to move me? Alas, they did.

This was the main crux of the matter. The stories did not resonate with me one bit. At times I could enjoy them but I found them so empty and unsatisfying. These stories were intellectually brilliant but emotionally bankrupt. (there I sai
Jul 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, life-is-shit
One morning while reading Cloud Atlas I was leafing through The Lie that Tells the Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction by John Dufresne and I opened to a page talking about how you have to leave room in a book for the readers to do some of the work. The readers need to fill in some of the gaps. According to Dufresne, this isn't just some advice that a writer can't give every piece of minutiae in a book, because that will make it unreadable, but also that readers want to put in some of the work. It ...more
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars

This is the kind of book you want to pick up when you're ready to be totally absorbed in story. I mean, you need strap yourself in before you pick this up.

This is not a carefree or light read. My advice is to approach this when you're looking for something complicated & engaging where every little detail has the potential to mean something later on.

The book is comprised of the stories of 6 different characters, all of which are related to each other in ways that may not b
Apr 13, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews

(DISCLAIMER: This review was my knee-jerk reaction right after reading the book. Since then my admiration for CA has diminished. I will let the original review stay as it is. I disown this review though.)

WOW. With my vocab-deficit, I can't find the perfect word to express how reading Cloud Atlas felt. I will put spectacular as a placeholder. It has been quite some time since I read something this exciting.

So. The thing about Cloud Atlas is that everything explaining the central theme of the nove
Andrew Smith
Some have claimed this as a masterwork others say it’s unreadable. For my part I have more sympathy with the latter view. Before reading the book I deliberately hadn’t read any reader reviews but I had seen the film trailer that seemed to promise a helter skelter race through the ages with the hint of reincarnation and sci-fi shootouts abounding. Well, disappointingly that's not quite what I found between its pages.

I don’t mind having to do some thinking when I’m reading and, as a fan of Haruki
All my fears that this book would be a pretentious head-trip were initially reinforced when the first segment of the book ended abruptly. Right when I felt myself getting attached the main character, a Englishman aboard a merchant ship in the South Pacific circa 1830, I was moved into the mind of an unrelated character about 90 years later, a man escaping nefarious schemes in London to pursue an assistant position with a prominent modern composer in declining health. But once I came across myste ...more
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David Mitchell was born in Southport, Merseyside, in England, raised in Malvern, Worcestershire, and educated at the University of Kent, studying for a degree in English and American Literature followed by an M.A. in Comparative Literature. He lived for a year in Sicily, then moved to Hiroshima, Japan, where he taught English to technical students for eight years, before returning to England. Afte ...more

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