Karolyn Sherwood's Reviews > Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
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it was amazing
bookshelves: audiobooks, read-2x, saw-the-movie, fiction, read-3x
Read 3 times. Last read September 14, 2019 to October 2, 2019.

(FOURTH READING: September 2019) As I said in my earlier reviews, this is my “desert island” book, the one I am and would be happy to read over and over. Each time I read and/or listen to it, I get more out of it. This time through CLOUD ATLAS, I grasped the theme and message more clearly. In each of the six related stories, David Mitchell shows us how, through time, those with power used and abused those without power. It would make you cry about the unjust nature of man if it didn’t also give us hope for our individual possibilities. This is definitely a story about the triumph of good over evil. Mitchell’s beautiful last line (not a spoiler!) is this: “ ‘... only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean!’ Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?”

In other words, each of us is as important as any of us. And together we are one.

Five eternal Stars


(SECOND READING: MAY 27, 2013) The first time I "read" this book (see below), I actually listened to it on audible.com. It's fantastic via the audio version because of the brilliant choices for readers. Then I saw the movie (typical movie response). Recently, I purchased the hardback version of CLOUD ATLAS, and read along with the audio version. You might think I'm crazy, but really I'm just THAT in AWE of David Mitchell's work. Any bit of excitement that was lost in my third "reading" of this story was replaced by admiration for the genius of David Mitchell. Okay, you get my gist. For me, this book is better each time you read it. And you will see I loved it the first time:

(FIRST READ: NOV. 23, 2012) Finally! Now I know what book I will take to my proverbial deserted island. You know, What's the one book you would choose if you could read only one book for the rest of your life? CLOUD ATLAS, by David Mitchell. Yes, it's that good. I have two reasons for saying that.

First, Mitchell's imaginative story and his mastery of the English language—as well as Olde English, and two languages he adapted from English—are phenomenal. Each of the six segments of this novel (told as six linked short stories) is fully developed and full of unique, round characters. The settings are—can I use the word phenomenal again?—as different from each other as Jane Eyre is from Star Wars. But Mitchell's talent goes beyond language and physical descriptions; this book is smart. I'm not giving too much away to say that all of the stories happen on Earth, the first segment taking place in the 19th Century, and the last in the 26th Century. Mitchell lets the reader figure out what has happened to the world in between each segment. And the title is perfect: CLOUD ATLAS: the novel is the legend of moving parts, i.e., clouds.

The second reason I would take CLOUD ATLAS to my deserted island is because it might take me the rest of my life, reading and rereading this book, to fully grasp it all. This is a thick, literary, epic novel (528 pages). The book was originally released in 2004, and I have wanted to read it for a long time but was slightly intimidated by what I'd heard about it. When I saw that it had been turned into a movie, I moved it up on my TBR list to read before I saw the movie. Instead, I listened to this as an audio book (beautifully narrated by six different actors). I must admit I was so lost at several parts of the story that I didn't know what was happening, but I also couldn't stop listening. I saw the movie halfway through my audio experience which made me able to understand a movie that many people could not follow. The two experiences (audio book + movie) truly increased my enjoyment of each other. One day (soon, I hope) I will read the paper version, and I am sure that will further enhance my enjoyment.

Reading CLOUD ATLAS will take some commitment, but this is a prime example of "you get out what you put in." If you love a story that pulls you in so deep that you don't even want to come out, AND you like a story that challenges your intellect a bit, AND you admire a wonderful sense of imagination, CLOUD ATLAS is your book.

Bravo, David Mitchell. This novel should have won the National Book Award. Five Stars.
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Reading Progress

May 3, 2012 – Shelved
October 2, 2012 – Started Reading
October 2, 2012 – Shelved as: audiobooks
November 19, 2012 –
page 350
66.16%
May 18, 2013 – Shelved as: read-2x
May 27, 2013 – Finished Reading
March 4, 2015 – Shelved as: saw-the-movie
March 4, 2015 – Shelved as: fiction
August 9, 2019 – Started Reading
September 14, 2019 – Started Reading
September 14, 2019 – Shelved as: read-3x
September 24, 2019 – Finished Reading
October 2, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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Lormac Loved this book! I have his follow up somewhere in my "read soon" pile (but that pile is getting really high!)


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