Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Posted on February 16th, 2014
 Cloud Atlas by David MitchellCloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Published by Random House in 2004
Pages: 509
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three-stars
A postmodern visionary who is also a master of styles and genres, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventures, a Nabokovian love 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.

Verdict: Kind of OK

Cloud Atlas mapWow! That was a marathon. I feel like I’ve been dragged pretty much all over time and space: from the 19th century Chatham Islands to Brugues to California, all over the UK then off to a dystopian future Korea before passing through Raiatea and  both 19h century and post-apocalyptic Hawai. But I also rather feel like I just read six short novels which were rather loosely tied to each other. The link is in the idea of the transmission of documents through generations of people somehow connected to each other. That’s interesting, provided you don’t mind the idea that the documents are basically inactive and of emotional significance only to those people. The other connecting thread the depressing, though possibly true theme, about the eternal resistance of the human spirit in the face of oppression but equally, the upper hand oppression constantly regains.

When I come to ask myself if these six short novels (or one long one) were any good, I find I want to rate them between 2 and 4 stars, depending which novel/part. Honestly, Cloud Atlas was okay, but I’ve read many books which packed a similar punch on the same theme, were at least as clever in their organization, better in their writing and not nearly as long.

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