“loud Atlas is David Mitchell's third book. It follows a similar pattern to his book Ghostwritten (which I read last year). Cloud Atlas is a series of stories, each narrated by a distinct invidial living in a different place and time. Each of the sections of the book is some kind of retelling - a diary, letter, interviews, a movie, etc. Each of the stories intersect each other in an obvious way (and a not quite so obvious way that I can't reveal without giving away the book.)
The book begins with the Diary of Adam Ewing, an American notary living in the Chatham isles in the mid-1800s. Then we skip to Belgium in the 1920s with a series of letters from Robert Frobisher, a bi-sexual composer, to his friend Rufus Sixsmith. The third part is the story of Louisa Rey, a reporter in the 1970s who stumbles across problems with a nuclear reactors in Buenas Yerba, California. From there, the story takes us to Timothy Cavendish living in Britian in the present time. The next story is from Somni-495, a fabricant living in Korea in the not-so-distant future. Her story is in the form of an "orison", a sort of last testimony of her life set aside for the historical record. The final installment is told by Zachary Bailey, a member of the nine valleys in Hawaii. This is the more distant future, after the fall of humanity.
Each of the stories is interrupted by the next, once even in mid-sentence. Then, once the reader reached Zachary's future, the stories move backwards again, picking up where each one left off, and finishing them all.
The most interesting part of this book is reading the stories as they move back through time. This is a novel that can be enjoyed on a superficial level and on a much deeper level. It's easy to see the ways that the stories show each of the steps that humanity takes in order to come to that final conclusion. You could say that Cloud Atlas is really just one story of all of humanity.
The toughest part in this novel is probably Zachary's story, only because the author writes in a dialect for the entire part. Once I got used to it, the reading went faster, but getting used to it took some time. Overall, I found Ghostwritten to be more eloquently written, but the ways that the stories intersect in this book are far more complicated and fascinating.