Cloud Atlas: A Novel

David Mitchell
Cloud Atlas begins in 1850 with Adam Ewing, an American notary voyaging from the Chatham Isles to his home in California. Along the way, Ewing is befriended by a physician, Dr. Goose, who begins to treat him for a rare species of brain parasite. . . . Abruptly, the action jumps to Belgium in 1931, where Robert Frobisher, a disinherited bisexual composer, contrives his way into the household of an infirm maestro who has a beguiling wife and a nubile daughter. . . . From there we jump to the West Coast in the 1970s and a troubled reporter named Luisa Rey, who stumbles upon a web of corporate greed and murder that threatens to claim her life. . . . And onward, with dazzling virtuosity, to an inglorious present-day England; to a Korean superstate of the near future where neocapitalism has run amok; and, finally, to a postapocalyptic Iron Age Hawaii in the last days of history.But the story doesn’t end even there. The narrative then boomerangs back through centuries and space, returning by the same route, in reverse, to its starting point. Along the way, Mitchell reveals how his disparate characters connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.As wild as a videogame, as mysterious as a Zen koan, Cloud Atlas is an unforgettable tour de force that, like its incomparable author, has transcended its cult classic status to become a worldwide phenomenon.


Reviewed: 2021-05-16
beautifully written! Interesting! Original! Not regretting a thing spent with this novel! Magnificence!
Reviewed: 2020-10-05
I found this book when I asked a guy at BookPeople for a dystopia, and I can't recommend it enough.

It's a nested set of matryoshka dolls in front of a mirror; six separate stories woven together from the 1850s to a post-apocalyptic future and back again. Each could stand on its own, yet when taken together are glorious.

Here's some thoughts I had while reading it:

About 10 pages in: Hmm. This doesn't seem much like a dystopia. Oh well, it's ok so far.

About 40 pages: WTF?

Another 40 pages: WTF???

Later: Wow, this is good! Hey! Wait! I needed more about that guy, you can't just leave it hanging...

Still later: Holycrap this is good, but if all these threads don't wrap up some how I'm gonna be pissed!

End: Wow. What a rush.

Can't really say much about the stories, because really, you just have to see for yourself. Anything I could say would be a spoiler, so I won't go there. This is one trip worth taking.
Reviewed: 2020-06-17
Even better the second time through.
Reviewed: 2019-11-10
Very inventive and ambitious in scope. Crosses over centuries of time and blurs genre lines.
Reviewed: 2019-05-09
I just loved this. The radically different and juxtaposed styles amazed me, the stories and colorful characters thoroughly engrossed me, and the deep underlying theme of connectedness spoke to me deeply (perhaps more now than it might have in my younger years).

I tore through Cloud Atlas even in the midst of a whirlwind international trip, and I’m so glad I did. Now I can’t wait for my wife to finish so we can watch the movie together...!
Reviewed: 2019-01-12
Reviewed: 2018-12-26
I'm going to kick around for a while and try to figure out what people think the point of this book was because, quite honestly, it was beyond me. I can't decide why a person would read it, nor why the author wrote it. Why, between the six incarnations, did we followed this particular soul? I can see a link between three of them (Sonmi and Meronym and Luisa) but not the other three (Ewing, ESPECIALLY Frobisher, and Cartwright). If I was going to make a call it would be that the male side of this soul sucks more than the female. I suppose it could have been interesting, the way the writing styles completely changed from one character to another. Also, Ewing and the far future narrator for Meronym were rough reading, though the uneducated witness was the worst. I toughed it out because I expected something that the book never delivered

In summation, I'd have to be able to find an overall story somewhere to say the book was worth reading.
About 40% into this book, I would have given it 5 starts. I loved the unusual structure - the different voices of each story - the cliff hanger endings. But then I got to the sixth story, which I absolutely hated. The dialect was tortuous, the story boring, the philosophy too much like a beginning undergraduate philosophy class. My sentiments towards this central story made it difficult to finish the rest of the stories, which were okay. Overall, I have very mixed feelings about this book.
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