“Heard about the movie...Saw the trailer.... Had to read it... So far extraordinary!”Eric Spriggs wrote this review 5 days ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Six lives linked. A thread as fine and delicate as faith but stronger, more substantial, ties time and protagonists together. The celestial imagination of David Mitchell takes flight, gathers speed then defies the gravity of moribund realism yet maintains a reality that grounds the reader as it guides them through its orbit. A story spread like a duvet, like a quilt with patchwork patterns that declare its history.
It begins in 1850. adam Ewing is a ship-bound diarist who befriends Doctor Goose whilst the pair charter the turbulent seas. Mitchell captures, with a delicate and charming precision, the charming absurdity of the period perfectly. The rhetorical language, crude at times, describes the era as though it were written by Thomas Carlyle. The diaries describe Evelyn's journey. As they end the epistolary entries of Robert Frobisher begin.
Frobisher. Musical acolyte who worms affection from composer Vyvyan Ayres. He becomes his amanuensis, living with Ayres and his wife who he ends up bedding. Frobisher writes as he speaks. Cipped phrases. Fragmented sentences. All very middle class 1931 of which this part is set in. The letters from Frobisher to Sixsmith have their own musicallity. A jangle of verbs and adjectives. Through these letters the cast of characters set in this section are crisply delineated.
Time shifts. It is 1975. Louisa Rey, daughter of famed Lester Rey. She the journalist working on small time Spyglass magazine. Her boss the hard nosed editor who grants her latitude to investigate something suspicious regarding (now elderly) Sixsmith's recent, apparent, suicide. Louisa learns more than she should. Unpalatable truths that implicate a large corporation.
From era to era we move. from wind blown sailing ships to political intringue then taut thriller.
Timothy Cavendish. London - 2005. The thread extends. Rocketed foward we proceed into what has to be one of the funniest pieces I have read. Cavendish, publisher by trade, has a one time gangster as author whose books are not selling. Incensed by his lack of success and the horrid write up one critic gives him said ex-gangster, whilst at a celebrity gathering, shove the critic off the top of the building. This act sends public interest soaring and the book sales rocket. Cavendish pockets the money and spends it. Author come gangster's brothers come calling. Cavendish flees carrying with him a manuscript he is yet to read..."The First Louisa Rey Mystery." The tread extends.
David Mitchell does not let the gravitational pull of mundane realism shackle his wondrous imagination. This story flies with mercurial fluidity encompassing several centuries. From the far past to the not so distant to the now and beyond. Historical fiction weaves with political thriller and first class humour before returning, a time loop perhaps, whence it came.
David Mitchell is not only one of Britain's great contemporary authors - he is one of the worlds best. This is an amazing read. Incomparable to anything I have read before. ”
“book club”Victoria T wrote this review 2 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A great read if you like literary styles, cultural and literary references, and puzzles. Not sure if it makes its point thematically. Very unique.”ljs294 wrote this review 2 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“One of the rare books that I've read after viewing the movie. Had some differences from the movie such as characters that were cut out in the movie (due to time constraints I'm assuming). Obviously more descriptive and detailed than the movie. Overall was a good read”James Heider wrote this review 3 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“You go to your book shelf and press edit on the book to write your review. Your teacher will then read your review here. ”Sharon wrote this review 3 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A uniquely organized story, although confusing in places. With the start and Ewing's journal, I struggled, at times to keep up. Moving to Frobisher's letters, I started to understand more. Louisa Rea's story was much more contemporary and easy to follow. Timothy Cavendish's story did not immediately seem to fit, with the nursing home mixup, but I could follow it. Then Sonmi was tough to follow, although cloning was obvious. Zachry's story was pretty interesting, showing the 'old uns'. Overall, a decent story.”hurricanesfan66 wrote this review Friday, November 1, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“One of the best books I have ever read. The way the different narratives fit into each other like a stack of Russian Dolls is utterly masterful. ”Kirsty K wrote this review Friday, October 25, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Six seperate stories occuing in different eras, but each tied together somehow (example - a character from one story found the journal of a character from the previous story). Each individual story was good. This would have gotten 5 stars if the stories tied together even more so. I was expecting some sort of 'a ha' moment at the end of the book, but there was none. Recommended for older teen or adult. Readers of most genres who appreciate good writing will like this book.”Jay Nickel wrote this review Monday, October 14, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2013/10/cloud-atlas.html
I have to admit. I finished reading this book a while ago. I have taken this time to dwell on it, reread passages, think about it some more, and really consider how I describe it. Reading this book, I feel, will be an intensely personal experience. This book will not work for everyone. For me, it did.
From its description, the book is a set of six loosely related stories. Each is set in a different time and place. Each is written in an entirely different style. The first is the journal of a traveler. The second is letters from a young musician. The third is the story of a young reporter and big business. The fourth is the adventure of a publisher institutionalized because of illness. The fifth is the tale of a futuristic world of clones and slavery. The sixth comes full circle to life on a primitive post-apocalyptic island.
The stories are not told in their entirety, instead in halves. They build from the first to the sixth and then weave their way back. The first set of sections stop rather abruptly and at a climatic moment. Only the story of the post-apocalyptic world is told in one go. As such, it forms the crux of the novel.
Based on the description, I was not sure I was going to enjoy the book. As I read the first section, I wasn't sure I would like it. Yet, I kept reading. The writing styles of certain sections appealed to me more so than others. Slowly, though, themes start to emerge in the book - statements of ideology and philosophy - and it coalesces into a whole. The book is one about human nature, power, control, and the past being redefined to suit the needs of the future. These themes repeat throughout the book:
From the traveler's journal: "Scholars discern motions in history & formulate these motions into rules that govern the rises & falls of civilizations. My belief runs contrary, however. To wit: history admits no rules, only outcomes. What precipitates outcomes? Vicious acts and virtuous act. What precipitates acts? Belief. Belief is both prize & battlefield, within the mind & in the mind's mirror, the world."
From the musician's letters: "Wars do not combust without warning. They begin as little fires over the horizon. Wars approach ... Another war is always coming, Robert. They are never properly extinguished. What sparks wars? The will to power, the backbone of human nature. 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."
From the reporter's story: "Yet how is it some men attain mastery over others while the vast majority live and die as minions, as livestock? The answer is a holy trinity. First: God-given gifts of charisma. Second: the discipline to nurture these gifts to maturity, for though humanity's topsoil is fertile with talent, only one seed in ten thousand will every flower - for want of discipline ... Third: the will to power. This is the enigma at the core of the various destinies of men. What drives some to accrue power where the majority of the compatriots lose, mishandle, or eschew power? Is it addiction? Wealth? Survival? Natural selection? I propose these are all pretexts and results, not the root cause. The only answer can be 'There is no "Why." This is our nature.' 'Who' and 'What' run deeper than 'Why.'"
From the publisher's tale: "Mother used to say escape is never further than the nearest book. Well, Mumsy, no, not really .... Books don't offer real escape, but they can stop a mind scratching itself raw."
[Okay, I know this has nothing to do with the themes, but I love comments in books about books.]
From the future world: "In a cycle as old as tribalism, ignorance of the Other engenders fear; fear engenders hatred; hatred engenders violence; violence engenders further violence until only "rights," the only law, are whatever is willed by the most powerful."
From the post-apocalyptic world: "Human hunger birthed the Civ'lize, but human hunger killed it too."
What I found amazing was how completely David Mitchell is able to change his writing style from section to section. Each section is like reading a completely different book - the voice, the language, the writing style, the descriptions - pretty much everything about the story. I feel that David Mitchell describes his own work within the book. "Spent the fortnight gone in the music room, reworking my year's fragments into a "sextet for overlapping soloists": piano, clarinet, 'cello, flute, oboe, and violin, each in its own language of key, scale, and color. In the first set, each solo is interrupted by its successor: in the second: each interruption is recontinued, in order. Revolutionary or gimmicky? Shan't know until it's too late, and by then it'll be too late."
I vote revolutionary. I did not expect to like this book, but I did. I expected to toil through it, and through some sections, I did. The themes and the ideas of this book will stay with me for a long time, and I can see myself periodically rereading.”