Review: Cloud Atlas

Saturday, October 18, 2014
Title: Cloud Atlas
Author: David Mitchell
Publication Date: 2004 
Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy

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.

My Thoughts

I first found out about David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas through the movie adaptation last 2012 (which I didn't watch), and I didn’t really take much interest in reading it. I was only reminded of it about a month ago, when our teacher in Literature had us read it. I was a bit hesitant at first, but now I can see why it's our teacher's favorite novel.

The plot revolves around six stories, each nested in the next. It begins in the nineteenth century, advancing through time until we reach the last story that's set in a post-apocalyptic future. We explore the tales of six different people--Adam Ewing, a notary on board the Prophetess, Robert Frobisher, an aspiring pianist, Luisa Rey, a journalist digging for the truth behind a potentially harmful nuclear power plant, Timothy Cavendish, a publisher tricked into a nursing home, Sonmi~451, a fabricant (or server) in Nea So Copros (or Korea), and Zachry, a valleysman who tells the adventure of his escape from Ha-why (or Hawaii)--eventually realizing how their lives are connected, even through time.

Cloud Atlas blew my mind. The mere idea of creating such an interconnected world of characters is complicated enough, but Mitchell manages to do it beautifully. The voice of each character is so distinct and well-written that you could be convinced of their existence. Admittedly, it was hard to read at first, especially considering how it started with a story from the nineteenth century--all I could think was, What the hell is this guy talking about? But as the story progresses, the concept behind it becomes clearer and clearer, and it's like a light bulb just goes on in the back of your head and you realize how fantastic the whole thing really is.

The most interesting part for me would have to be An Orison of Sonmi~451. It's about a future where corporations rule society, as is evident by how they call everyday things like cameras and cars as nikons and fords, respectively. It serves as a kind of wake up call to how much we tend to value branding these days, and the dangers posed by maintaining such an attitude. Mitchell's rich imagination of the scenario was particularly awe-inspiring. I mean, who knows? It may be creepy, but it's not that absurd to think that this could actually resemble our future...

All in all, Cloud Atlas is an engaging read with wonderfully designed characters and worlds that will just suck you right into the stories they have to offer. This review is barely enough to do its brilliance justice, so sci-fi fan or not, you should give this book a shot! 

My Rating


Joy @ The Bookshelf Intruder said...

I love your review! I haven't read this book but your review convinced me that I should read it. :) I also found out about this book when the movie came out. There were lots of bad reviews about the movie though so I didn't watch it. This is going to my TBR. :)

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