Mark's Reviews > Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
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's review
Jan 08, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: epic, literary

One of my literary man crushes, Dave Eggers, mentioned this book as one of those that everyone needs to read in an NY Times review. Excited, since I realized that I belong in the "everyone" category, I checked it out and am left with mixed feelings.

Crossing 6 times periods and literary styles, Cloud Atlas is an epic which discusses man's striving for power and the consequences of his search. Mitchell definitely has some literary muscles and this book definitely flexes them. He can create authentic voices in any time period, 1st or 3rd, and winks at you as he does it. Each of the 6 stories has its own feel and could be separate books on their own, but he ties them together with both subtle and darn clever methods.

But while impressive, it's the dramatic differences between the stories that prevented me from really getting into the book simply because I'm not a fan of stories in every time period and voice. Historical Fiction, as a whole, has never really done it for me. The last story chronologically, which is a post-apocalyptic tale, was written in such broken English that it reminded me of reading Pygmy by Palahniuk and thus I had to fight off the temper tantrums and Vietnam war flashbacks.

Ultimately, I'm not going to blame Mitchell for this 3 star rating, but my own lack of literary endurance. If I hit 30-40 pages of something that isn't my cup of tea, my brain turns off and anything that comes after seems like white noise. I was really only interested in 3 of the 6 tales and voices, which made reading through the other sections feel like a chore and ultimately not worth it when there are so many books on my physical to-read shelf.

In the end, if your a buff adult reader who can tackle any voice, I'm sure you'll get more out of this book than I did. I can see that the book as a whole is really well done, but I just couldn't hack it all. Alright, YA, here I come....
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