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Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas (original 2004; edition 2004)

by David Mitchell

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11,249467250 (4.14)4 / 1115
Title:Cloud Atlas
Authors:David Mitchell
Collections:Your library

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. 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. 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. 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.
  5. 40
    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. 30
    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (JenMDB, sturlington)
    sturlington: Both have unusual narrative structures and explore the theme of reincarnation.
  8. 30
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (JenMDB)
  9. 30
    Black Swan Green by David Mitchell (PghDragonMan)
  10. 31
    Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (novelcommentary)
  11. 20
    The Children of Men by P. D. James (JenMDB)
  12. 31
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (generalkala)
    generalkala: Similar multi-strand, multi-era novel.
  13. 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.
  14. 21
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Anonymous user)
  15. 10
    TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (suniru)
  16. 10
    The Islanders by Christopher Priest (tetrachromat)
  17. 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.
  18. 10
    Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru (Tinwara)
  19. 88
    Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (hippietrail)
  20. 00
    Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann (JuliaMaria)

(see all 28 recommendations)


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English (454)  Dutch (5)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  Czech (1)  German (1)  All languages (467)
Showing 1-5 of 454 (next | show all)
This was a bit of a tough book to get through. Some parts more interesting than others. I had to "check out" the digital audiobook from the library three times before I was able to finish the book.

This story takes place in different times and through different characters. Which makes it interesting and the different stories are unique enough to stand apart. ( )
  untitled841 | Aug 20, 2015 |
This was a very interesting and unique book. It consists of several large sections which are woven together to tell six distinct stories. These stories do relate to each other, but explaining how would be too much of a spoiler. I had thought this book was going to be a science fiction book, but in truth only about a third of it met my definition of science fiction. I would consider one third of it to be historical fiction and the other third to be present-day (or, at least, recent-day) thrillers.

I think one of the most impressive aspects of this book was the way each story had a very different style and voice. All of the stories were entertaining and held my interest, but the two that I would classify as science fiction stories were my favorites. That isn’t surprising given that science fiction is one of my favorite genres. The language in some of the stories could be challenging at times. The historical stories used older and less common words, and the science fiction stories used a lot of made-up words and odd spellings. I usually became comfortable with each new writing style within a few pages, though.

One of the stories was written entirely in an odd vernacular with a lot of made up words thrown into the mix. As a reader of science fiction and fantasy I’m completely used to made-up words and they normally don’t faze me but, combined with the vernacular, it seemed like overkill at first. I was a little overwhelmed by it on the first couple of pages, but I read a few paragraphs out loud and I found it easier to interpret it that way. Once I had gotten the voice in my head, I was easily able to read the rest of it silently and I barely even noticed the odd vernacular by the time I reached the end. I was half afraid though that, by the time I made it to the end of this book, I wouldn’t know how to spell anything properly anymore. :)

The tie between the stories was interesting but I felt like it ultimately played only a very small role in the book. I was expecting the stories to form a bigger picture that made me go “ooooh” and “aaaah”, but I felt like the connection was ultimately pretty minor in terms of their impact on events. This is the main reason why I’m giving this book four stars instead of five. I enjoyed reading the book, but I was expecting the sum of the parts to add up to more than their individual pieces and, in my opinion, they didn’t.

I can’t say much more about this book without moving into spoiler territory, so I’m going to put the rest of this review in spoiler tags. However, before moving on to the spoilers, I leave you with one last thought…. Copyright pages can have spoilers too. I caught a word in the category listing on the Copyright page that stood out and made me go, “Really?!” After that, it was way too easy for me to guess the connection between the stories. So, if you read this book for the first time, avert your eyes when you flip past the Copyright page.

In case you’re curious, the word on the Copyright page that I felt was a spoiler was the word “reincarnation”. So, yeah, I pretty much knew what the connection was from the moment the second section started and I met a new character in a later time period. Otherwise, I doubt I would have figured it out before Luisa’s section when she’s unsettled by reading about Frobisher’s birthmark. Actually, since I thought I was reading a science fiction book, I might very well have been looking for a more complicated explanation and not even considered the reincarnation angle until it was discussed more explicitly.

A few random thoughts:
* I really liked the way each character was reading/watching the story of their previous incarnation.

* I also liked the music connection – the way the piece Frobisher was composing had the same structure as the book itself.

* The Cavendish story was the oddest of the bunch in my opinion. It was interesting, but left me with a lot of questions. I really wish we’d been told what the deal was with Cavendish’s brother. Was it a joke that went wrong when he died unexpectedly, was it a miscommunication about why his brother would be staying there, or had he really intended for things to happen as they did? Why did the people in charge at the home seem to think it was perfectly normal that he had brought himself there, and yet still judge him incapable of deciding to leave on his own? And, on an unrelated topic, how did Cavendish read the lips of a girl who had her back to the window that he was supposedly reading her lips through?

* I found myself wondering if any of the antagonists were also reincarnations or if it was just the protagonist.

* Was I the only person surprised to realize it was Meronym who had the birthmark? I’d gone through most of the story up to that point thinking Zachry was the reincarnation.

* I also don’t recall ever being told for sure that Ewing had the birthmark. For a little while, during the last section, I was toying with the idea that maybe the evil doctor was actually the one. I think the author intended that it was Ewing, but it would have been interesting if it had been Dr. Goose. Then you could kind of say that he improved throughout his lives – from being completely evil and without conscience in the first story, to being rather deceitful and self-serving in the Frobisher story but not all bad, to becoming the more likeable and moral characters in the later stories.
( )
  YouKneeK | Aug 9, 2015 |
An updated version of Orwell's 1984, but it includes segments from the past, near past, near present, future, distant future. The book is better than the movie. ( )
  Michael_Lilly | Aug 3, 2015 |
This story asks the reader to have a lot of patience, it wasn't until the half way point that I could sense the scope of the project. In fact there is still a suspicion that the whole thing is just a way to link up a handful of short stories. But then again, why not? The individual stories are nevertheless very engaging, the characters interesting, and the settings well drawn and believable. When I reached the speculative scenes of the future I was hooked, certainly a frightening dystopia, and unfortunately quite believable. The moral lessons are rather heavy handed, but personally I couldn't agree more as to who the baddies are in the real world! Overall, a very clever book from a great writer. ( )
  Estramir | Aug 3, 2015 |
Extremamente dificil de classificar e definir senão como genialmente apetecível, desorientante e complexo.

São 6 histórias/diários/descrições em momentos temporalmente distintos em que elementos de cada história aparecem referidos nos momentos temporais seguintes, assumindo uma ligação contínua das nossas acções e das nossas almas num atlas de nuvens que se prolonga indefinidamente. São histórias ou uma gigantesca história de luta, revolução, descoberta da verdade, busca do amor, resistência, sobrevivência às adversidades para deixar uma marca no(s) mundo(s) que acabam por se entrecruzar uns após os outros.

Desisti várias vezes da leitura regressando a ela cada vez mais viciado. Um livro intoxicante e fascinante. ( )
  bruc79 | Jul 31, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 454 (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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Original title
Alternative titles
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Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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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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 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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