Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Title: Cloud Atlas
Author: David Mitchell
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Length: 509 pages
Original Publishing Date: August 17, 2004
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: Audiobook from the e-library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
A postmodern visionary who is also a master of styles and genres, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventures, a Nabokovian love of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction that reveals how disparate people connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.

Hi, my name is Audrey and I am obsessed with stories like this. 

Let's start from the beginning: when I saw the movie. I was completely obsessed with the way that the filmmakers wove the stories together into one cohesive narrative. Absolutely gorgeous. The book was always on my to-read list, but I never had the chance to read it until recently. 

The book is both incredibly similar and notably different from the movie. One of the biggest differences was the structure. The book follows a strict layered structure, that layers stories within stories, as seen below.
I love the way that each of the stories melds into the others, like how Robert finds "The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing", Luisa discovers the "Letters from Zedelghem", Timothy reads the manuscript of "Half Lives", and on and on. Each of the stories are connected to each of the others across space and time. Basically, Mitchell acquires perfection in this structure. 

Some of the relationships were different in the book than in the movie, but not really better or worse one way or another. 

Here's what I like better about the book:
  • That structure is just so beautifully done and tied together, it all feels so cohesive and like every little thing has meaning 
And the movie:
  • It's much easier to visualize what's going on. Sometimes the book gets a little tough to wade through, especially the first two stories (Adam and Robert), so it's easier to view it than read through the archaic language. 
  • The way that scenes from each story were mixed up (though not as structurally beautiful) made clear the connections between what was happening to different characters. Also, the repetition of actors; how the same actors played different characters across the six stories, was a great effect. 
Basically, even though I knew the plot and how everything turned out, it was still a joy to read Cloud Atlas and Mitchell is a master of the multiple narratives.  

Rating:  8.0 / 10 (5 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!