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Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas (original 2004; edition 2012)

by David Mitchell

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
11,864501223 (4.14)4 / 1171
Title:Cloud Atlas
Authors:David Mitchell
Info:Sceptre (2012), Paperback, 528 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, 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
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (JenMDB)
  9. 30
    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (JenMDB, sturlington)
    sturlington: Both have unusual narrative structures and explore the theme of reincarnation.
  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
    Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru (Tinwara)
  14. 10
    The Islanders by Christopher Priest (tetrachromat)
  15. 10
    TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (suniru)
  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. 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. 21
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Anonymous user)
  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 (486)  Dutch (5)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  Czech (1)  German (1)  All languages (499)
Showing 1-5 of 486 (next | show all)
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 |
I didn't see the flic, but when it came out I decided to read the book, which I had been hearing about for some years. Composed of 5 fascinating tales in 5 different genres (mystery, sci fi, epistolary, Defoe-like sea journal, and first person narrative), with wildly different protagonists in wildly different time periods linked together by various small coincidences, this is a tour-de-force both structurally and stylistically. Entertaining enough to be made into an excellent film? Yes, but the writing is so consistently extraordinary that the viewer could not hope to approach the rich experience tucked in its 500 pages. A South Sea voyager, a debt-plagued lusty bisexual composer, a young female reporter on the trail of corporate corruption, a garrulous elderly editor institutionalized against his will, a cyberbeing with a conscience, and a primitive island boy who may be living in a post-apocalyptic society. This book casts a spell that can't be easily shaken. ( )
  deckla | Apr 5, 2016 |
the style is very good, the humor, and creativity...I did not understood the purpose of the book before the middle of it.
It has to see with civilisation opposed to violence, and for sure the choice wich keep us being human.
I think it`s a great book. ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 486 (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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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
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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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