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Cloud Atlas: A Novel [Paperback]

David Mitchell
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and infuriating Dec 1 2011
By Samantha TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a work of genius, there is no doubt about that. Stylistically innovative, it is a literary masterpiece. The novel begins with a partial journal from the 1800's, moves to letters from 1931 Belgium, then the first half of a novel based in the 1970's, followed by the "ghastly ordeal" of the publisher of the novel, next a partial video transcript from the future, then at the centre, a "yarn" from the further future. Then it works backwards to the beginning starting with the rest of the video transcript, followed by the publisher, the novel, the rest of the letters and finally the end of the journal. Until the middle of the 500 page tome, I was really irritated by the language. While skillful and clever, it seemed an awful lot of work, and a bit haughty. However, once I reached the centrepiece, a futuristic tale from "after the fall" of civilization, I realized I was in love. I loved the hillbilly-like language and the archaic tribal life portrayed. Once that part was finished though, I was again irritated. It is not the kind of book one can skim, so I plodded on, reading word after word, at once charmed and vexed. I cheered when finished, thrilled that I had made the full journey without once throwing the book across the room. Was it worth it? Yes, because it really is genius. But if you're not in love with language, be cautious: this is no beach read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the greatest books I've ever read May 25 2006
By Maggie
As soon as I finished reading this book, I wanted to start reading it again. I love it, I love it, I love it. The language is out of this world - clever, funny, poetic, just good fun. The plots are exciting and intriguing. The imagination is unbelievable. The messages are thought-provoking and timely. Don't be put off because there are many different sub-stories. I hate short stories, yet I loved this book. I have been telling everyone I know that they MUST read this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this book... Sept. 5 2004
but should I say "these" books?

Built as multiple narratives one into another, each section is quite enjoyable on its own. Although the links between each part sometimes feel a bit stretched and the flow of reading halted by the insertion of yet another narrative (hence my rating of 4 stars vs 5), the total does become more than the parts and makes for excellent reading. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Writing but Overambitious Jan. 15 2013
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 50 REVIEWER
When I heard about the movie “Cloud Atlas,” I was intrigued enough about its unconventional storyline and narrative to want to read the book on which it was based. A story that spans several centuries and told from different voices and perspectives, with elements of thriller, historical and science fiction, seemed like a perfect match for my own interests. However, while it has certainly turned out to be a technically and narratively remarkable book, I was decidedly underwhelmed with it.

“Cloud Atlas” is comprised with six different stories, each of which except the sixth is punctured in the middle with the subsequent one, only to be returned to in the inverse order later on. The book has a form of one-dimensional nested Russian-doll. This is a very clever and technically challenging narrative structure, and with the right kind of material it could have been a real masterpiece. However, in the end I didn’t find this working out all that well. First of all, the stories are VERY loosely related to each other. Their tenuous connection relies more on insinuations, allusions, off-narrative developments, and certain stratagems (reincarnation?) that are never fully and explicitly developed and feel more like deus ex machina ploys than organic plot developments. Furthermore, it was really hard for me to get into most of these stories, with an exception of maybe one and a half of them. They seemed contrived, and it was not easy to start carrying for a whole new set of characters every forty pages or so. And once I did, the stories abruptly broke off, oftentimes at some of the most interesting points. By the time I returned to them, I had mostly forgotten what they were about in the first place, and cared even less about “what happens next.”

Finally, there is the whole issue of language.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you need to know about Cloud Atlas July 11 2013
Here is everything you need to know about Cloud Atlas in order to avoid being completely bewildered by it:

1. Cloud Atlas is written as a series of short stories, each set in a different time period and location. Each is written in a completely different style. All except for the sixth one are cut off mid-way through and then completed in reverse order.

2. The six stories progress through the ages of civilization from tribal to modern day to a future society that is technologically advanced but completely dystopian to a post-apocalyptic world (which is essentially back to the tribal beginning).

3. Each of the six stories appear in some form in the succeeding story, as letters, novels, films, music, etc.

4. The protagonist in each story is conveniently identified with a comet shaped mole on their shoulder. SPOILER ALERT- They are in fact all reincarnations of each other.

5.The theme of this book is Exploitation of Man by Mankind and does Civilization really make one civilized?

I loved this book! I loved the different characters and the different writing styles that the author used in each of the six stories. Each character and the situation they find themselves in are very different, but each is amazingly well done.

I loved each of the individual stories! They were excellent on their own, but woven into a novel they come together to illustrate Mitchell's theme. Which is man's basic drive to exploit those around him, through every age and every civilization, over and over again.

This is an extremely creative and orginal book and I wholeheartedly recommend it!
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Challenging yet very rewarding
This book is ,in reality, six short stories that are intertwined in devious and interesting ways. The story lines start and stop only to be picked up later in the book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bootsy Bass
4.0 out of 5 stars book vs movie
i actually liked the movie more in some ways. i liked how the movie jumped around more than the book did, but the details/extended story lines in the book were better.
Published 3 months ago by Philip mclellan
2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't get into it. I found that at thirty ...
Couldn't get into it. I found that at thirty percent into the book, I was still looking for something to relate to. Who knows, I may try again sometime, but not soon.
Published 3 months ago by Cheryl Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars A visionary masterwork omnibus whose narrative threads and characters...
Just read it!!!
Published 3 months ago by spiderfriend
3.0 out of 5 stars Cloud Atlas
Hard to keep up with all the nuances of this book. Very hard to read and certainly not something that you can relax with.
Published 5 months ago by Lucy Kukac
5.0 out of 5 stars Richly drawn
This is a complex, ambitious novel which is written with a master's hand. David Mitchell succeeds in creating a series of seemingly unrelated stories and weaving them together into... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Lorina Stephens
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put this down
The beginning is slightly confusing, but keep going and you won't be able to put this book down! Don't watch the movie first, though.
Published 6 months ago by Red Pond Celi
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
I loved this book. It was a bit difficult to read at first for someone that usually does not read fiction (I mostly read non-fiction, self-help books in the past), especially... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Joonha Shin
2.0 out of 5 stars A confusing Read
Too many back and forth situations made my head spin. I would watch the move to get a sense of how quickly things change before reading it.
Published 14 months ago by Marlena Stocker
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a mental work out
Fantastic stories and characters. Unforgettable in fact. However getting through this novel wasn't easy, and at times a struggle. Mitchel is a great writer but almost too much so. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Ryan G
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