The Sword and Laser discussion

Cloud Atlas
This topic is about Cloud Atlas
135 views
2012 Reads > CA: Impressed but Disappointed (Some Spoilers)

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Jacob (last edited Oct 23, 2012 01:48PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jacob (Soolseem) | 4 comments It's really frustrating when you want to love a book and instead you merely end up liking it.

(Out of curiosity, is there anybody on this forum who loved the book? I'm seeing a lot of criticism, but not a ton of support.)

Cloud Atlas is clever. I liked almost every story taken on its own terms. I liked the unique structure, and the way the writing style changed to match each new era. Unlike some of the other posts here, I didn't find the writing uninteresting or unbearable, I was actually hooked.

But taken as a whole, I found the book to be a letdown. Maybe this was simply because I was expecting it to be something it wasn't.

Each story is linked by common themes, coincidental connections between characters, a vague subplot involving reincarnation and a few other strange hints that each tale is part of something greater. I was intrigued, I kept expecting these hints to culminate in some ultimate payoff, some grand explanation on how each character's life affected the grander narrative.

It never happened. You get to the last page, and the book merely ends. It proves to be little more than a collection of (admittedly interesting and well-written) short stories with only the thinnest of threads holding them together.

This book could have been so much greater if each character's tale eventually played into some grand narrative, linking the exploration age to the end of civilization, but it never happened. A good comparison is Hyperion, which takes a series of diverse, interesting stories and synthesizes them into a larger tale about a pilgrimage to confront a space-demon.

I still plan on seeing the Cloud Atlas movie. There are some beautifully-written scenes that I would love to see recreated on the big screen, and the trailers have hinted that the film will strengthen the links between tales, so maybe this will be one of the rare cases when Hollywood actually makes a book better.

It's a good book. I don't regret reading it, but at the same time I wouldn't recommend it. I loved the concept, and had it been executed better it could have been great. Unfortunately, Cloud Atlas doesn't quite make it.


D. H. | 100 comments Soolseem wrote: "Cloud Atlas is clever. I liked almost every story taken on its own terms. I liked the unique structure, and the way the writing style changed to match each new era. Unlike some of the other posts here, I didn't find the writing uninteresting or unbearable, I was actually hooked."

I'm with you. I liked the writing very much. The stories were unoriginal, but really enjoyable on their own terms. However, the structure ruined it for me because (view spoiler)

But I guess "ruined" is too strong a word. It was very thought provoking, and I've enjoyed talking about and reading everyone else's comments. I guess I couldn't really ask for too much more than that.


message 3: by Louise (new) - added it

Louise (louiseh87) | 352 comments Isn't that the whole point though? I got the impression that the book was trying to say none of these people really matter in the end. They're just tiny parts of a much greater whole, even if they are connected.

I wasn't convinced they were fictional, only that they seemed so to those coming after. And history does have an air of the fictional to it anyway. At least to me. I've nothing to say people in the past really lived without my ever having seen them do so.


David Sven (Gorro) | 1582 comments Soolseem wrote: " It proves to be little more than a collection of (admittedly interesting and well-written short stories) with only the thinnest of threads holding them together."

This is how I viewed the book. 6 short stories. I was a little more interested in the connections between the stories than the stories themselves. The first and last stories were my favourite - not because the stories were particularly interesting but because I enjoyed the language and the humour.
It's interesting you bring up the comparison to Hyperion. I was just thinking that Frobishers story reminded me of the poets story in Hyperion. I didn't particular like either of them, and yet they both serve as the author's self examination of himself and his work and where they make the points they want to make. But I don't particularly like self indulgence. Its the one thing I hate about Steven Erikson even though I still enjoyed his Malazan books.

My Review http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 5: by Spriggan1 (new)

Spriggan1 | 25 comments Very good summary of thoughts, OP. I have a feeling you may like this podcast review of the book, almost identical sentiments.

http://5by5.tv/incomparable/109

Personally I feel the same way that they and you do, the only difference being that I found a few of the individual stories so delightful (Frobisher, Rey and Sonmi) that I have to say I loved the book.

And yes, the movie will attempt to do a lot more to tie the overarching narrative and themes together. I've done a lot of research, but now that the theatrical release is upon us, I don't feel it will do much good to write it all down.


Alterjess | 319 comments maybe this will be one of the rare cases when Hollywood actually makes a book better.

I love this book, and saw the movie last night, and I think the movie misses the mark. But I didn't come away from the book wanting stronger ties between the stories - I think Mitchell pulls off a really masterful balancing act between weaving the threads that connect everything without hitting the reader over the head. The film, I felt, was quite heavy-handed and sentimental in comparison.


terpkristin | 3627 comments I really loved this book. I am a sucker for cleverly-written books, though. I loved the "meta" of it, telling a story about telling stories.

The one thing I didn't "get" was the reincarnation. I liked all the characters having the common thread, but I didn't realize it was supposed to be reincarnation until I read an interview with Mitchell and he said as much.


message 8: by Rob, Roberator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rob (robzak) | 5099 comments Mod
Alterjess wrote: "saw the movie last night, and I think the movie misses the mark."

Sneak Preview? I'm having my Wisdom teeth out on Friday, so it may be a week or two after it comes out till I see it.


Alterjess | 319 comments Sneak Preview?

Press screening - my husband is a critic.


message 10: by Rob, Roberator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rob (robzak) | 5099 comments Mod
Alterjess wrote: "Sneak Preview?

Press screening - my husband is a critic."


Cheater!


message 11: by Gregory (last edited Oct 24, 2012 09:56AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gregory (gfitzgeraldmd) | 30 comments I found the period language to be a little difficult at first, but as I read on I realized it was as much a part of the story as the characters and plots. The reincarnation sub-plot was interesting, in a way even thought these were short stories of different people, it was really the story of one soul (protagonist) moving thru different lives. So, depending on your point of view, it really was one story.

I am looking forward to the movie as well, and hope the movie keeps the breaks in the stories that the book has. I liked the effect it had on the way the story unfolded and the foreshadowing it gave the reader.


message 12: by Starstorm (new)

Starstorm | 15 comments Overall I found it to be a good, thought-provoking book that that featured intriguing characters and engaging storytelling.

As far as it the stories being connected, I think in some cases, its subtler than others. Frosbier/Luisa stories are connected by Sixsmith. Soomie is connected to the Zachery story and plays an integral role. The events in Luisa's story are tied to both Soomie's and Zachry's story.

I think the two big themes that are twined throughout the book are equality and whether humanity is doomed to destroy its own race through greed and corruption. I think the conclusion Mitchell is that the latter depends upon choices made in individual lives.


back to top