Michael's Reviews > Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Rate this book
Clear rating

Cloud Atlas is a really hard book to review; it starts off as a Journal circa 1850 documenting a voyage home from the Chatham Islands, then it’s a series of letters from a 1930’s English musician to a Belgium composer, then a journalist from 1975 investigating for a novel that will blow the whistle on a new nuclear power plant , a 21st century publisher is fleeing from gangsters in a movie dramatization, a dystopian future story told from genetically-engineered clone’s perspective and finally the post-apocalyptic future where technology is all whipped out. Confusing? Well this book does all come together in to make Cloud Atlas a truly interesting book to read but I don’t think it worked as intended.

I think author David Mitchell is too clever for his own good in this book. The stories do all come together and he really shows off by writing each section in the best genre style to suit what is happening but he is just doing too much in this book. I feel like I’m just starting to get invested in the story of one protagonist and then Mitchell jumps to the next one without any sense of resolution. Sure he does return to each story a second time around but by then I feel like it’s too late for me.

David Mitchell really flexes his literary muscles in the book and he is a wonderful write but there is so much happening in this book and I never felt like he achieve what he was hoping for. I’m not sure cutting from six to three or four story arcs would have helped the book but it might have helped the reader become more invested. I particularly liked the thriller style of the investigative journalist and that gangster story line of the publisher but when their story is just getting exciting it’s all over and we have to move on to the next one.

Cloud Atlas is an interesting, clever book but this doesn’t make it a good book; I enjoyed parts of it and other parts infuriated me. I will say I’m glad to have read it before the movie adaptation is released but it’s not something I ever want to revisit again. I get that he is trying to do a novel about evolution or reincarnation; as each protagonist bares the same birth mark but that element of the book never really went anywhere. I know some people really love this book but I felt like it was too much of a show off. I’d like to read a David Mitchell book where he sticks to one genre instead of all of them.
26 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Cloud Atlas.
Sign In »

Reading Progress


Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kim Yeah I don't think that whole connectivity through multiple lives things worked at all.

Michael He tried, but it failed

message 3: by Booksy (new)

Booksy It seems to have worked quite well in Jennifer Egan's "Visit from the Goon Squad" (inter-connectedness theme), but I haven't read "Cloud Atlas" yet, so can't comment, but I certianly understand and share your point.

Shandelirious Whew. Glad I'm not the only one who was less than impressed with this. The first half of the book drove me nuts, constantly dropping off and starting completely anew. I felt like I had to reset my brain over and over. My favorite section of the book was the Zachary story where - surprise - it feels like a complete story. Not terribly impressed.

Josiah If you want a more straightforward David Mitchell story, try Black Swan Green or The Thousand Summers of Jacob De Zoet.

Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition Thanks - I couldn't get a clear idea of what the book was actualy about until I read your reveiw.

Victoria Young Check out Mitchell's newest novel which was shortlisted for this year's Booker, 'The Bone Clocks'. My personal preference is for Cloud Atlas, but reading your review above, I kind of love all the things you didn't like about Cloud Atlas, and I suspect you might find Bone Clocks answers some of your complaints.

back to top