Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Review by Louise Ryan
Book Overview (Blurb) by Amazon
By the author of THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET, David Mitchell’s bestselling and Booker Prize-shortlisted novel, one of Richard & Judy’s 100 Books of the Decade, CLOUD ATLAS has now been adapted for film. The major motion picture, directed by the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Grant.
The novel features six characters in interlocking stories, each interrupting the one before it: a reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan’s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified dinery server on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation. The narrators of CLOUD ATLAS hear each other’s echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changes in ways great and small.
This book is EPIC and jaw dropping in almost every way. The book has six stories that span time. Starting in 1850 and running through to the VERY distant future and then back again.
At first reading, this book is hard going. The language is difficult and flowery and the story itself seems very contrived and it feels like you know where it heading. Trust me here, YOU DON’T!
The way the stories interlock is as brilliant as it is absorbing. The very real and clever way that the English language is used to seperate the stories and time zones is, quite honestly, amazing.
The pictures it portrays of the future are as chilling as they are, well observed. The characters are extremely likeable and easy to identify with. And I suspect that each reader will have their own favourite according to personality type.
I can’t say much about the story because it isn’t JUST one story. It’s an almagmation of several different ones with one running thread. That thread is a soul. Can a soul be reborn? Can one soul alter time? Can one soul effect it’s own rebirth?
I will say this is NOT a book you can charge through. I am a very fast reader. This book is 529 pages long and it has taken me, almost 4 days of constant reading to get through it. Not because it is a difficult read, Far from it (at least after the first part) but because you really need to take your time to understand what is going on. You need to accumulate and process the thoughts and feelings of the main characters. Each word to be savoured and twisted around your brain until it sinks in.
This book is very clever and very well written. I will say though, that at the end it may be a little clever for it’s own good but I’ll let you make your own judgement. It is definitely something I would recommend for someone interested in something a little grittier than girly romances or young adult fiction.