Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - Book Review

Title: Cloud Atlas
Author: David Mitchell
Publisher: Sceptre
Publication Date: June 2011 (2004)
Pages: 864
Format: Flipback
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Bought Copy

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A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan’s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified “dinery server” on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation—the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other’s echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.

In his captivating third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity’s dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.
(Goodreads Synopsis)

I wanted to like this book and to a certain extent, I did. Some of the stories caught my interest, but as a whole this just didn't quite come together for me. I was happily reading through the first few stories, but it was the pivotal middle section that lost me. I just found reading the prose and dialogue in that sixth plotline too tedious. That broke the flow of the book for me and, while I still enjoyed returning to the earlier stories to find out what happened, it shattered the continuity and made me anxious to just reach the end.

For me, this was too much an exercise in form and, though no doubt very clever, it made the book lack heart. The interwoven stories are expertly done, but they never fully moved me. That's why this get's three stars; I liked it but it was just missing the spark I was looking for.

That said, the movie trailer looks very interesting and I will certainly be going to see it. Perhaps this is one of those rare occasions where the story will work better in another medium.

As a side note, I read this in the new flipback format. I loved the portability of the book, but the pages were flimsy and easily crumbled and torn. Plus they were a bit too transparent, making them hard to read as text from the next page would show through. An interesting concept though.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nicki!

    I've seen the promos for the film and I'm not sure. It could either be really good, or really miss. I think I'll wait on the book, although usually the source material is better than the movie. Can't wait to hear what you think of it. My next have to see movie will be Skyfall. Love Daniel Craig as Bond so much!

    Take care, my friend, and have a great day!