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.

Reviews

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
read
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.
Reviewed: 2017-08-29
Book Description By the New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks | Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize A postmodern visionary and one of the leading voices in twenty-first-century fiction, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian love of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending, philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco, Haruki Murakami, and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction as profound as it is playful. In this groundbreaking novel, an influential favorite among a new generation of writers, Mitchell explores with daring artistry fundamental questions of reality and identity. 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. Praise for Cloud Atlas "[David] Mitchell is, clearly, a genius. He writes as though at the helm of some perpetual dream machine, can evidently do anything, and his ambition is written in magma across this novel's every page."--The New York Times Book Review "One of those how-the-holy-hell-did-he-do-it? modern classics that no doubt is--and should be--read by any student of contemporary literature."--Dave Eggers "Wildly entertaining . . . a head rush, both action-packed and chillingly ruminative."--People "The novel as series of nested dolls or Chinese boxes, a puzzle-book, and yet--not just dazzling, amusing, or clever but heartbreaking and passionate, too. I've never read anything quite like it, and I'm grateful to have lived, for a while, in all its many worlds."--Michael Chabon "Cloud Atlas ought to make [Mitchell] famous on both sides of the Atlantic as a writer whose fearlessness is matched by his talent."--The Washington Post Book World "Thrilling . . . One of the biggest joys in Cloud Atlas is watching Mitchell sashay from genre to genre without a hitch in his dance step."--Boston Sunday Globe "Grand and elaborate . . . [Mitchell] creates a world and language at once foreign and strange, yet strikingly familiar and intimate."--Los Angeles Times From the Hardcover edition. Editorial Reviews
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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