Book Review│Cloud Atlas

cloud atlas

Author: David Mitchell // First published in: 2004 // Genre: Science Fiction
This edition: 531 pages, published in 2005 by Sceptre // Get it @TheBookDepository

Read in February 2015

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

The narrators hear their echoes in history and change their destinies in ways great and small, in a study of humanity’s dangerous will to power. A reluctant voyager crosses the Pacific in 1850. A disinherited composer gatecrashes in between-wars Belgium. A vanity publisher flees gangland creditors. Others are a journalist in Governor Reagan’s California, and genetically-modified dinery server on death-row. Finally, a young Pacific Islander witnesses the nightfall of science and civilization.

My thoughts (and some personal mumbo-jumbo)

I came to know about this book because some directors that I really like were set to make a movie out of it, starring my favourite actor of all time: King Tom Hanks himself. So of course I was interested in the book; which I bought around the same time the movie came out in 2012 but didn’t get around to read until now.

One of the first things I ever read about the book was that it was “too good”, whatever the hell that means. And I thought to myself, “What? How can a book be ‘too good’? Either it is good, or it is bad.” A book that is so good that it is too good for his own good (a lot of “good” in this sentence!)… How does that even work? If you add the fact that it was renowned for being impossible to adapt into a movie, and there you had a mystery of a book.

Last year, when I was in my final year of my Master’s degree, I had a course with the most terrifying (in my opinion) professor in my university, and it came to my knowledge that he had taught that course for a while now, and until the previous year, he had been studying Cloud Atlas in this class. By then I had seen the movie, loved it, and was very bummed to have to study The Gathering and The Little Stranger (and don’t get me started on Quilt, ugh) instead of Cloud Atlas. That I have read it though, I’m kind of okay with the fact that I didn’t have to study it, I’m pretty sure I would have failed this class (not that I particularly shined at the time either).

Cloud Atlas is such a complex and incredibly crafted piece of literature. It can be off-putting and quite daunting (look at me waiting 2½ years to read it), but I think it really is quite interesting. I don’t have the patience to do this myself, but if you were ever to have to study this in depth, I am sure that a lot of very profound interpretations would come to light on the human life, our actions and their repercussions throughout the years.

My Rating:

I’m giving it 3/5 stars. Even though I can appreciate the work of literature, I had a very difficult time getting through it (I think it kind of triggered a reading slump for me). The entirety of the book and the way it is crafted is what makes it interesting, but unfortunately, some of the chapters were rather difficult to get through (the chapter in the centre, in which everything converges, was impossible for me as a non-native English speaker to understand. I had to look for an audiobook version to have it read to me because I couldn’t make sense of it myself), and some a bit boring quite frankly.

This book is definitely an investment, but I am glad I have finally come around to reading it.

I would say though that having watched the movie prior to reading the book definitely helped. As part of my Tom Hanks Challenge, I will be re-watching the movie in the course of the year, so you can expect a review either here on the blog, or on my Letterboxd account.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review│Cloud Atlas

  1. Like you, I keep postponing this reading. I really want to read it, yet, having seen the movie, I’m afraid of some parts where the language seems difficult to comprehend. I hope I’ll one day be able to say I read it. Great review! 🙂

    1. Oh thank you! You are my very first “outside” commentator (meaning I don’t know you in real life), so thank you for that. 🙂
      I understand that the book is daunting, and it took me a long time to get through because a big reading slump hit me in the middle of it, but since you’ve seen the movie, I think it’ll definitely be easier to understand. My only trouble as I said (did I? I don’t even remember my own reviews) is the middle chapter that happens way in the future and the language is all messed up. As a non-native English speaker it was hard for me and had to resort to an audio book. And I plan on rewatching the movie soon. 🙂

  2. Haha you’re welcome! I discovered your blog from Candice’s website. 🙂

    I don’t remember everything from the movie, but I think I know which scenes you’re referring to, and they didn’t make a lot of sense in the movie either. I would have never thought to listen to the audio book, so thanks for the tip, I’ll remember it if (more probably, when) I’m completely lost!

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