“I borrowed this book thinking it was similar to the movie. I was pleasantly surprised it was a different story. A great story about Alaska.”Adrian Romero wrote this review Tuesday, March 5, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Excellent. Extremely evocative. Respectful of both the Catholic and the Shamanic world views simultaneously.”Talugiski wrote this review Wednesday, January 23, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“et against the magnificent backdrop of Alaska in the waning days of World War II, The Cloud Atlas is an enthralling debut novel, a story of adventure and awakening—and of a young soldier who came to Alaska on an extraordinary, top-secret mission…and found a world that would haunt him forever. Drifting through the night, whisper-quiet, they were the most sublime manifestations of a desperate enemy: Japanese balloon bombs. Made of rice paper, at once ingenious and deadly, they sailed thousands of miles across the Pacific...and once they started landing, the U.S. scrambled teams to find and defuse them, and then keep them secret from an already anxious public. Eighteen-year-old Louis Belk was one of those men.”Josephine D wrote this review Monday, April 9, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Interesting historical event that I had no clue about.”Christina C wrote this review Monday, March 26, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“An interesting story with many twists and turns.
“Was hooked immediately by the dual time-line structure, unique characters and the balloon concept. ”MM wrote this review Wednesday, February 2, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The third quarter of this book seems as if ghost written by J.G.Ballard, and that is a good thing.”Mr. Potatoehead wrote this review Sunday, June 14, 2009. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Japanese balloon bombs in WWII Alaska. A crazy Princeton man with one leg. A beautiful Yup'ik girl with a gift. An alcoholic Shaman, one of the last of his kind. A young soldier straight from a Catholic orphanage.
This was an interesting story, with interesting characters. It suffers by it's unevenness. Sometimes it drags on. At the end it speeds through the conclusion.
This feels like a first novel. I think next time Callanan will have a bit more control. ”
“What a complete bore. I tried several times to get into this book, but ended up taking it back to the library. ”Susan M wrote this review Monday, January 7, 2008. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The story is about a priest and a shaman, and centers on events during World War II that involved the Japanese balloon bombs that were sent against North America.
There's also a romantic interest in the story, and the story bounces around from the present day to memories of WWII.
The basic concept of the balloon bombs is based on reality, but the author adds a lot of things that I don't believe actually happened in relation to the balloon bombs. The description of the bombs on pages 22 and 23 of the story seem to be pretty accurate, but away the story refers to some men being killed by a bomb exploding in a particular place, and no such thing happened.
On page 38 the author talks about the balloon bombs being mistaken for “comets and flying saucers.” The term “flying saucers” did not come into use until after the end of the war. There was a thing called “foo fighters” that were sighted, but that is what they were called, and they involved planes in the air, not anything relatively near the ground.
The story does refer to a fear of some of the balloons eventually being manned, which was actually one possibility the Japanese considered. Another possibility they considered, and one referred to in the book, was the use of germ warfare by attaching infected fleas or other insects to the bomb, then dropping those on populated areas. The book refers to the source of these germs as Unit 731, which was the actual source. However, the existence of Unit 731 was top secret, and a regular soldier like the one in the book, Louis, would not have known of the unit's existence.
Louis also refers to a Japanese plan to use kamikaze planes loaded with the germs to attack San Diego in 1945. I have not read about any such plan anywhere else. It also probably wouldn't have worked since the crash of the plane would have triggered an explosion and fire which would have killed the fleas or whatever, this not counting the incredible difficult for the Japanese of getting a plane all the way to San Diego late in the war. There was a sub that could launch a small plane that did exist and had been used to bomb Oregon forests, but that was earlier in the war when the Japanese had the time, ships and men that they could use to carry out such a raid.
As for the story itself, revolving around Louis, Ronnie, the shaman, and a woman, Lily, the story isn't that very interesting. The whole book, basically, was somewhat of a disappointment to read.