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Cloud atlas : novel by David Mitchell
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Cloud atlas : novel (original 2004; edition 2004)

by David Mitchell

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
11,882503223 (4.14)4 / 1171
Member:Amsa1959
Title:Cloud atlas : novel
Authors:David Mitchell
Info:New York: Random House, 2004
Collections:Your library, SF, Fantasy and Horror
Rating:***
Tags:1001 books, dystopian, sf, 2013, big fat book challenge 2013

Work details

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (2004)

  1. 120
    If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino (Ludi_Ling)
    Ludi_Ling: Different yet both well-written approaches to meta-fiction.
  2. 112
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell (pgmcc)
    pgmcc: Really enjoyable set of related stories with the author's well deomonstrated skill
  3. 71
    The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson (TomWaitsTables, PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: A theme of reincarnation used to balance Karma flows through the story.
  4. 51
    Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (Rynooo, browner56, pfeldman)
    browner56: Highly imaginative works, particularly the phonetic recreations of the English language
  5. 84
    A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (jbvm, souloftherose)
    jbvm: Without giving anything away, after you've read both you'll understand my recommendation.
    souloftherose: Both novels are occasionally experimental in style with interconnected short stories. They are also both very good.
  6. 40
    Number9Dream by David Mitchell (PghDragonMan)
  7. 30
    Black Swan Green by David Mitchell (PghDragonMan)
  8. 30
    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (JenMDB, sturlington)
    sturlington: Both have unusual narrative structures and explore the theme of reincarnation.
  9. 30
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (JenMDB)
  10. 20
    The Children of Men by P. D. James (JenMDB)
  11. 31
    Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (novelcommentary)
  12. 10
    The Islanders by Christopher Priest (tetrachromat)
  13. 10
    TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (suniru)
  14. 32
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (generalkala)
    generalkala: Similar multi-strand, multi-era novel.
  15. 10
    Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru (Tinwara)
  16. 10
    The Castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino (Ludi_Ling)
    Ludi_Ling: For those interested in disparate yet intertwining narratives of a somewhat fantastical nature.
  17. 21
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Anonymous user)
  18. 10
    Girl Reading by Katie Ward (rarm)
    rarm: Girl Reading isn't as intricately constructed as Cloud Atlas, but both books use linked stories to carry a theme through the centuries and into the future.
  19. 00
    Join by Steve Toutonghi (47degreesnorth)
  20. 00
    Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann (JuliaMaria)

(see all 29 recommendations)

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English (488)  Dutch (5)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  Czech (1)  German (1)  All languages (501)
Showing 1-5 of 488 (next | show all)
Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

The book ends up being a morality tale, even though a very intricate one that employs some unusual literary tricks which I will use the word, “confusion”. The first chapter was the hardest for me to get through. I ended up writing little tidbits on paper as I read on through the stories to enable myself to connect the dots.

Confinement, impulse and enslavements of various sorts form the group of people of evil gods who preside over Cloud Atlas. The paper trail of documents and artifacts is carefully laid, a glorious puzzle from six different stories for the reader to unravel. David Mitchell created well develop characters, however it was slow pace reading to understand how the stories came together and delivering the ending to make sense.

The book has six people extending across time and place and organized in such a manner to bring the entire story together at the end. First we have, Adam Ewing of the 1950’s, sailing in the Pacific Ocean, his accounts were written in a journal form, then Robert Farbisher of the 1930’s, traveling in Belgium, next we have Luisa Rey of the 1970’s, she is a reporter investigating a California suicide, then moving on to Timothy Cavendish a publisher of the present time, hiding out in England, then Sommi of the near future learning who she is in Taiwan and last is Zachry of the distant future, learning to survive on the Big Island of Hawaii.

This is a type of book that keeps you thinking, it’s a challenge and makes the reader seek for connections between people, past and present. Mitchell captures the genre so it reproduces perfectly among the stories but I was highly frustrated at times trying to keep it all together. Mitchell is very versatile in his writing about the tension in the human race between the will to destroy and the will to create.

How do I say I liked it but I didn’t like it?
( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
multiple narrators
5 stars

One way to describe Cloud Atlas is to say that it is a collection of seven very different short stories. It is a tour de force of genres ranging from historical fiction to contemporary humor; from hard-boiled detective thriller to dystopian science fiction. Despite the extreme differences in style the stories have some commonalities. They are all first person narratives. They pursue a common theme. Each story has its connecting reference to the story preceding it. And each story but the last one is broken in half like the pieces of a Russian nesting doll, to be reassembled in the end. I liked each of these stories individually as clear examples of particular styles. However, the stories themselves are not the most compelling aspect of this book. The most interesting thing about Cloud Atlas is trying to figure out how Mitchell managed to construct something so complicated.

This was an excellent audio production. Each of the skilled performers was perfectly chosen for the specific style of each short story. I enjoyed listening to this book, but listening is not enough. When I read Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet,, I found that I was reading many of his characters’ conversations three times. Their sentences were fragmented to insert their internal thoughts which were also fragmented by their spoken words. I had to reread to reconstruct the complete sentences; then read it again as Mitchell wrote them. In reading Cloud Atlas, I need to repeat this process with entire stories. This is very difficult to do with an audio book. I’m off to order a paper copy of this book so I can flip back and forth through the pages to trace all of the connections between the stories.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
Not my usual genre, but a very intriguing book; in fact, a sort of collection of six books, about six different sets of characters in six different places and periods of time, loosely connected by a strange comet shaped birthmark and by various references to one another.

Beginning as a 17th century travel journal of trading and missionary endeavors in the south Pacific, then a collection of letters from a British exile in 1931 Belgium, to an account of investigative journalism involving trade secrets and death threats surrounding a nuclear energy plant in California, to the tragi-comic events that befall a London book publisher, to a far-off future interview of a servant class clone in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic Korea, to an even more distant post-apocalyptic future setting in Hawaii, then back down through the other settings in reverse order.

The themes of greed, world domination, slavery, belief in reincarnation, and hope predominate. Speaking of ancient civilizations, Meronym of the Prescients teaches Zachry (in Hawaii), "Old'Uns tripped their own fall." Hae-Joo Im declares, "Neo So Copros (future Korea) is poisoning itself." In Belgium, M. Dhondt philophosizes, "Another war is always coming...What sparks wars? The will to power..the threat of violence, the fear of violence or actual violence is the instrument of this dreadful will...The nation-state is merely human nature inflated to monstrous proportions. QED, nations are entities whose laws are written by violence." Near the end of his Pacific Journal, Adam Ewing writes, "...one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself. Yes, the Devil shall take the hindmost until the foremost is the hindmost. In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul, for the human species, selfishness is extinction." But hope endures; Adam also writes, "If we believe that humanity may transcend tooth & claw, ...divers races & creeds can share this world..., if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable & the riches of the Earth & its Oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass." ( )
  FancyHorse | May 10, 2016 |
I almost quit reading Cloud Atlas before finishing the first section of Adam Ewing's journal. Almost. But let me make this clear: The fruit is worth the labor. If you're struggling with the beginning, persevere. You won't regret it.

The first reason you won't regret it is because David Mitchell can flat-out write. Each section of the story is written in a different style, but his skill shines through in every one of them, even the one I almost quit.

Secondly, Mitchell does a good job of portraying the heart of man in this fallen, sinful world. Regardless of culture or time period, the sin of man can be seen. But it's not as though Mitchell only highlights the negative side of humanity, and our propensity for evil. There is also hope throughout his grand narrative. While Mitchell and I may disagree on the basis of our ultimate hope, I thought he was an astute observer of human nature.

Overall, this was an excellent book. You should pick it up, put in the work to finish, and realize the brilliance of Mitchell's massive undertaking. ( )
1 vote codyacunningham | May 9, 2016 |
Six stories from completely different timelines that are good stories on their own, but even better as they are deeply connected. Each is written as a memoir/letter/interview as the person reflects on certain events. This can make it slightly hard to listen to as an audiobook, but the narrators do a great job making it great. The stories are all different, with their own unique protagonist, and their own unique problems, but as each story unfolds you can see what the author was trying to achieve. I believe the main theme is peace and love with the ending being quite powerful on the impact an individual can have on change. It is a beautifully written book and a great read. ( )
1 vote renbedell | Apr 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 488 (next | show all)
Cloud Atlas is powerful and elegant because of Mitchell's understanding of the way we respond to those fundamental and primitive stories we tell about good and evil, love and destruction, beginnings and ends. He isn't afraid to jerk tears or ratchet up suspense - he understands that's what we make stories for.
 

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Mitchellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Campbell, CassandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guest, Kim MaiNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heyborne, KirbyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthews, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mijn, Aad van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Hana and her grandparents.
First words
Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forlorn strand, I happened on a trail of recent footprints.
Quotations
Oh, once you've been initiated into the Elderly, the world doesn't want you back.
Sometimes the fluffy bunny of incredulity zooms around the bend so rapidly that the greyhound of language is left, agog, in the starting cage.
The stationmaster's whistle blew on time, the locomotive strained like a gouty proctor on the pot before heaving itself into motion.
"Are you mad?"
Always a trickier question than it looks. "I doubt it."
Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
The book consists of six nested stories that take us from the remote South Pacific in the nineteenth century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future. Each tale is revealed to be a story that is read (or watched) by the main character in the next.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375507256, Paperback)

Now a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant, and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer
 

A postmodern visionary who is also a master of styles of genres, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian lore of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction that reveals how disparate people connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.
 
“[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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:11 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Recounts the connected stories of people from the past and the distant future, from a nineteenth-century notary and an investigative journalist in the 1970s to a young man who searches for meaning in a post-apocalyptic world.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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