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The Cloud Atlas Paperback – Oct 26 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Delta Trade PB ed. edition (Oct. 26 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385336950
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385336956
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #134,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The unlikely adventures of an 18-year-old soldier trained in bomb detection and disposal during World War II are painstakingly rendered against an Alaskan backdrop in Callanan's richly textured, sturdy debut. In the mid-1940s, Sgt. Louis Belk's main mission is to seek out and detonate Japanese hot air balloons that have been armed with explosives and deployed over North Americaan unusual but deadly war weapon. The slightest rumor of the balloons' existence might have a disastrous effect on American morale, which makes the job of Belk's bomb disposal unit even more critical. The unit's commanding officer, the eccentric, unbending Capt. Thomas Gurley, is a veteran spy hunter who lost a leg in an explosion and is on the verge of losing his mind. Both Gurley and Belk are smitten with Lily, an enticingly beautiful Yup'ik-Russian Eskimo seer whose great love, Saburo, a Japanese spy, is Gurley's nemesis. When the three go out in search of Saburo, they find something even more dangerous and puzzling: a booby-trapped balloon carrying a young Japanese boy. The narrative flits back and forth from Belk's harrowing exploits as a soldier to his present-day life as an Alaskan missionary tending to his friend Ronnie, who lies on his deathbed in an Alaskan hospice. Shadowed by the darkness of "arctic hysteria," the novel is brightened by crisp descriptions of bomb mechanisms and deactivation, as well as by Belk's offbeat, lyrical narration. Atmospheric and moving, this is an impressively assured debut.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

During the last days of WWII, naive Sergeant Louis Belk, trained in bomb disposal, is dispatched to the harsh frontiers of Alaska on a secret mission--capture and preserve one of the most enigmatic armaments of the war, Japanese balloon bombs. Working with the disgraced yet fiercely determined Captain Gurley, a former OSS spy hunter with a brutal nature, Belk studies a mysterious journal for clues to the next landing site of one of these lethal weapons. While exploring the wild streets of Anchorage, where a woman is viewed as a lady of the night and all soldiers are on top-secret missions, Belk meets Lily, half-Russian and half-Yup'ik Eskimo and self-proclaimed palm reader. Lily slowly divulges her secrets to Belk, including the site of the next bomb drop, finally revealing a secret that could threaten national security, one that takes Belk, Gurley, and Lily on a midnight quest into the frozen tundra. Alluring characters and story make this first novel a good choice for historical fiction collections. Kaite Mediatore
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The synopsis for Liam Callanan's "The Cloud Atlas" is actually the synopsis for David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas". Read it - it actually names the wrong author. Very misleading. Hope Amazon will correct this soon.
When I ordered this book, I thought I was getting the book described. My own fault for not paying better attention, but we were very disappointed with this order. I am now placing an order for the book I really wanted, which is David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas".
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am one of those who thought they were buying the story of the movie! But I enjoyed the book nonetheless. It was a nice surprise as I probably would not have read the book otherwise and would have missed out.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback
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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