Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

cloud atlasCloud 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.

Rating: 3/5

Overrated. The stories were linked by the most tenuous of connections. It was really just a collection of short stories, as other reviewers have mentioned.

I think I was supposed to find this profound? But no. I saw the message, but nothing really resonated with me. Not to mention, this was really daunting to start.

Sure, there was commentary on humanity’s overconsumption and capitalism and the violence of human nature, along with premonitions of us going back to primitive state and indeed the cyclical nature of life and the universe – but the way they were depicted was nothing extremely new or earthshattering. Which is odd, considering the aforementioned issues. My world was supposed to be rocked by this groundbreaking work of critical acclaim and many awards.

I will say that the author is certainly able to write in different genres, from historial to sci-fi, and the stories were good on their own, but as one supposed novel, I just felt really disconnected from everything.

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8 thoughts on “Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

  1. Could this be one of those rare cases where the movie is better than the book? I really loved the movie, bought the DVD and watched three times already 🙂

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    1. It is extremely intimidating to start! But it helps to break it up and think of it as 6 short stories in one, which made it a lot more manageable. Despite my criticisms, the author is certainly a skilled storyteller.

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