Rummanah Aasi
  Two months ago my book club decided to read Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I have to say that I was a bit excited because the movie looked pretty cool and different. Unfortunately for me, Cloud Atlas was a very painful and fruitless read. It's probably the worst book I've read this year.

Description: 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.

Review: Cloud Atlas is a book that is better to admire from afar for its structure rather than it's actual contents. Mitchell experiments and challenges the linear plot arc which most of us are familiar with as readers. Instead of one overall narrative that features many different characters and culminates into one conclusion, Mitchell offers us with six stories in different genres that recounts the "connected" stories of people from the past and the distant future, from a nineteenth-century notary and an investigative journalist in the 1970s to a young man who searches for meaning in a post-apocalyptic world. The stories begin and stop in what seems to be its climax and intersects, sometimes even in mid-sentence, with the next one. So essentially you are climbing up and reading stories 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and then climb down to conclude stories 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and lastly 1. Confused? You're definitely not the only one.
  You're probably wondering why I put quotation marks on the word connected up above, aren't you? Well, that's because the stories don't really connect in a substantial and meaningful way. I read the book in not the way you're suppose to- I actually would start and finish one story before continuing to the next. I wanted to see how each story builds up to this great epiphany people claim it to be. Well, after suffering through 500 pages, there is no such grand revelation. The stories don't really connect. It all comes across as coincidence- the musician from the second story by chance picks up a diary that begins the book, a journalist enters a music store and buys a record of the music from the musician from story 2. As a reader, I think Mitchell was more concerned with showing how he can imitate great writers of literature than actually caring for the stories and the characters. This lack of attentiveness is what really bothered me about this book along with its super dense writing- writing so dense that I had to drink more caffeine to stay awake and then finally taking an aspirin or two for my headache when I finished it.
  So is Cloud Atlas worth the read? Probably not, but you can always claim that you've read it like many people do with other classics like Ulysses by James Joyce.  

Rating: 1 star

Words of Caution: Disturbing images, strong language including racial slurs, and sexual situations. Recommended for mature teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: Ghostwritten by David Mitchell, A Wild Sleep Chase by by Haruki Murakami,
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
4 Responses
  1. Uhh no thanks! I have waded through plenty of these books to say I read them and I am not about that anymore. I think the movie was a flop as well. I read a book that reminded me of this A Visit from the Goon Squad and I hated it. A bunch of disturbing stories with little to no connection. I don't like books like this. THanks for setting me straight.

  2. I probably wouldn't pick this one up, anyway, but I guess I'll definitely be avoiding it now if it was your worst read of the year. Hope your next read is better, Rummanah.

  3. Candace Says:

    Yeah, I remember when my sister in law read this for a college class and her talking about it. I'm curious about it, but I don't think I'm curious enough to attempt to read it. Thanks for letting me know that it wasn't just my SIL who didn't enjoy it though.

  4. Bryan Pike Says:

    Thank you, you've pretty much summed up everything I disliked about this book, which is designed more to be "impressive" than enjoyable. I see it as a formal experiment with a 'profound' message hastily wrapped around completely disparate stories.

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