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Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas (original 2004; edition 2005)

by David Mitchell

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
11,111455252 (4.14)4 / 1094
Title:Cloud Atlas
Authors:David Mitchell
Info:Hodder & Stoughton Audio Books (2005), Audio CD
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:historical fiction, science fiction, reincarnation, short stories, slavery, rebellion

Work details

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (2004)

Recently added byscowie, andomck, okhotsk56, Rosalind, caitsith01, InfoQuest, randalrh, private library, JCRin, wkaufer
  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. 102
    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. 114
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (sturlington)
  4. 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.
  5. 50
    Number9Dream by David Mitchell (PghDragonMan)
  6. 51
    Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (Rynooo, browner56, pfeldman)
    browner56: Highly imaginative works, particularly the phonetic recreations of the English language
  7. 40
    Black Swan Green by David Mitchell (PghDragonMan)
  8. 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.
  9. 52
    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (sturlington)
  10. 30
    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (JenMDB, sturlington)
    sturlington: Both have unusual narrative structures and explore the theme of reincarnation.
  11. 31
    Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (novelcommentary)
  12. 20
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (JenMDB)
  13. 20
    The Children of Men by P. D. James (JenMDB)
  14. 21
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (generalkala)
    generalkala: Similar multi-strand, multi-era novel.
  15. 10
    The Islanders by Christopher Priest (tetrachromat)
  16. 21
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Anonymous user)
  17. 10
    TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (suniru)
  18. 10
    Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru (Tinwara)
  19. 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.
  20. 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.

(see all 30 recommendations)


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English (441)  Dutch (5)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  Czech (1)  German (1)  All languages (454)
Showing 1-5 of 441 (next | show all)
Amazingly complex and rich story with a charismatic writing style and lovely life lesson :) Definitely recommended. ( )
  sandye33 | May 19, 2015 |
I could go on all day about Cloud Atlas. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time and honestly may be one of the best books I have ever read. I would have given it 5 stars, but the Valleysmen language frustrated me from time to time (albeit it was phenomenal)*. I will not lie, I saw the movie first. I wished I hadn't. While the movie did a great job at following the story, it did not do it justice. And how could it.
The way Mitchell weaved all of the characters stories together throughout hundreds of year was impressive to say the least. The protagonists were so strongly written that all you wanted was their success (and in my case to be their best friend, Luisa Rey . . .) while the villains were so intense they made you cringe and hope for some kind of demise. There were so many things said about society, trends, and human nature that I don't even know where to begin.
This book deserves to stand the test of time and truly deserves to be read because it is a wonderful novel and NOT because they decided to make a movie out of it!

*Lied, it's still getting 5. ( )
  katherineemilysmith | May 4, 2015 |
A truly inspiring book. ( )
  Clifford.Terry | Apr 30, 2015 |
The book demands patience from the reader. The first half consists of incomplete stories that leave the reader bewildered, but if patience is exercised, the last half is satisfying. ( )
  charlie68 | Apr 28, 2015 |
This book was heading for a 2½ or 3 star rating for me until the last few sections. Perhaps my change of heart came from the book itself but I suspect that participating in a group read of the book helped. Because I was discussing the book with others, I put more thought into questions such as "Why did Mitchell write it this way?" and "What is the purpose of the recurring features?" while I was reading than I would have done if I had been reading this on my own.

I can't claim that I "know" what the book meant or was supposed to mean but I can say that this is a book that has a meaning. It could be about the terrible price greed and selfishness cause the world to pay; it could be about the importance of belief; it could be something else entirely. Different readers will come away with different messages.

For a while, I thought that Mitchell was suggesting that civilization was cyclical so a return to barbarism was inevitable. As a missionary in the South Seas said in the second section of Adam Ewing:

"'That's what all beliefs turn to one day. Rat's nests & rubble.'"

The decline of civilization shown in the book certainly seems to bear that out. But the final pages of the book changed my mind. Ewing talks about the importance of belief and acting on your belief even if it seems futile:

[Adam's imagined criticism from his father-in-law]:"'...only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean!'
   Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"

I love that message! However, I can't give the book 5 stars because there were some aspects that bothered me. They are probably silly nitpicking details but they prevent me from giving this the highest rating.

The most serious flaw for me was in the Sonmi sections -- I liked how Mitchell was showing the devolution of the language to coincide with the cultural decline. However, the use of American brand-names turned into nouns bothered me -- at first I thought it was clever but in Korea, these should have been Japanese brands rather than American. Also, some of the brands were already losing prominence when the book was written (Kodak for example) and so are unlikely choices (Fuji film would be far more likely to be commonly used in Asia than Kodak).

The theme that greed & the dominance of corporations over individuals leads to ruin could have been illustrated just as well with Asian brands.
( )
  leslie.98 | Apr 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 441 (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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Important places
Important events
Related movies
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For Hana and her grandparents.
First words
Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forlorn strand, I happened on a trail of recent footprints.
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.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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Original language

References to this work on external resources.

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:09 -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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