Saturday, January 12, 2013

Book Review of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell Dedicated to Jackie

Name of Book: Cloud Atlas

Author: David Mitchell

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8441-5

Publisher: Random House

Type of book: Story within story, 1800s-2300, science fiction, adventure, romance, music, journal, mystery, multi-genre, adult

Year it was published: 2004


A postmodern visionary who is also a master of styles and genres, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian love of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Haruki Murakami, 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.


There are a lot of characters, although its obvious that David Mitchell infuses them with different personalities, for no two stories are the same, and he's clearly a genius because of research and whatnot he presents in stories, such as Letters from Zeldegeheim or Son-Mi one and so forth. The characters are all linked, and although he gives the obvious hints, I wish more could have been given or something of the kind. There are villains, heroes and others, and very few stories focused on romance. Well, one focused on romance, the letters one. Others focused on survival. Maybe if I have a chance, I'll watch a movie, I hope. I'm curious about it.


Destinies of people are interwoven through time.


There are six stories; five are split and one is complete, and all but one are in first person narrative. The novel is also multi-genre; there's a fictional memoir, journal, letters, story and so forth. Mostly the novel is best described as science fiction. Although I enjoyed the first half because of different characters and whatnot, I didn't enjoy the second half, so its best to remember who's who in the book. There are a lot of characters in the book, although what I liked are the second half links; Zachry turning on the Orison to watch Son-mi speak; Son-mi supposedly watching a Disney and so forth. I kind of wish that the links in first half would have been the same as second half. In first half the stories are kind of linked; the journal of Adam Ewing being discovered Robert Frobisher who wrote to Sixthsmith, who was the cause of mystery for Luisa Rey who was a first novel to Cavendish who was a Disney to Son-Mi who was an Orison to Zachry. Unfortunately, the first half had poor links or transitions. I would recommend that one read it, but its not an easy read in terms of language or the style.

Author Information:

David Mitchell
Author profile

January 12, 1969 in Southport, Merseyside, England, The United Kingdom



Literature & Fiction

John Banville, Muriel Spark, Haruki Murakami, Paul Auster, Don DeLillo...more

About this author
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

David Mitchell was born in Southport, Merseyside, in England, raised in Malvern, Worcestershire, and educated at the University of Kent. He received a degree in English and American Literature, followed by an M.A. in Comparative Literature.

He lived for a year in Sicily, then moved to Hiroshima, Japan, where he taught English to technical students for eight years, before returning to England. After another stint in Japan, he currently lives in Ireland with his wife Keiko and their two children.

In an essay for Random House, Mitchell wrote:

"I knew I wanted to be a writer since I was a kid, but until I came to Japan to live in 1994 I was too easily distracted to do much about it. I would probably have become a writer wherever I lived, but would I have become the same writer if I'd spent the last 6 years in London, or Cape Town, or Moose Jaw, on an oil rig or in the circus? This is my answer to myself."

Mitchell's first novel, Ghostwritten (1999), moves around the globe, from Okinawa to Mongolia to pre-Millennial New York City, as nine narrators tell stories that interlock and intersect. The novel won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize (for best work of British literature written by an author under 35) and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award.

His two subsequent novels, number9dream (2001) and Cloud Atlas (2004), were both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. In 2003, he was selected as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. In 2007, Mitchell was listed among Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World.

Mitchell's American editor at Random House is novelist David Ebershoff. He lists John Banville, Muriel Spark, Haruki Murakami, Paul Auster, Don DeLillo, Russell Hoban, Italo Calvino, Peter Carey, George Orwell, Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borges, Richard Wright, Mikhail Bulgakov, and Ursula K. Le Guin among his many literary influences.


This was a birthday gift from a friend. I hadn't heard of the author nor of the book, and looked forward to reading it. The first half of the novel is genius and brilliant; interesting stories, fascinating openings, stories, characters, including imagination and I loved reading the first half, my favorite being Sonmi story, and I'm not a science fiction fan. However, I came upon the story that ruined everything for me: The Sloosha story. What first bugged me about it is the language and that I couldn't understand and got frustrated with it. Yet I kept going, looking forward to getting back to Sonmi and others. However, after Sloosha story, the second half of the novel quickly caused me to lose interest. I often wonder why, and when I tried to explain it, I couldn't. I think I understand it now why: once you get past the first five parts, the stories resume immediately and no previous details are given to connect the reader with second half. That is, when I read parts 4-6 I couldn't remember who's who in there. The book is like this: the stories break up purposely and begin a new plot, and then resume. Of course its impossible to remember every single detail thus memory fades and my enjoyment plummeted. Because the book was a gift, I feel pretty bad about giving it three stars, but I don't want to lie.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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