Cloud Atlas, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (45 ratings)

Description

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2004Winner of the Richard & Judy Best Read of the YearSouls cross ages like clouds cross skies . . .Six interlocking lives - one amazing adventure. In a narrative that circles the globe and reaches from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future, Cloud Atlas erases the boundaries of time, genre and language to offer an enthralling vision of humanity's will to power, and where it will lead us.*Please note that the end of p39 and p40 are intentionally blank*

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Showing 1 - 5 of 45 reviews.

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Review by
4

Quite an amazing read - very daring! It's like a set of Russian dolls with one story nestling inside another story nestling inside ... . In all there are six novellas of equal length - covering a whole range of genres and text types - history, comedy, thriller and science-fiction ... journal, letters, memoir, best-seller, musical composition, interview and oral history. In a playful twist the protagonist of each story becomes the consumer of the story that has gone before. Our need for stories is part of our humanity, he seems to say - and always will be. Less savoury aspects of our humanity are explored through the stories - greed and consumerism, prejudice, exploitation and enslavement.I must confess to having enjoyed The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish most. I don't often laugh out loud when I read, but this was deliciously, wickedly funny. Loved it where a disgruntled author encounters a critic who has written a particularly negative review, pitches him over the balcony. (Makes you wonder if there is an element of wishful thinking on Mitchell's part here!)But ultimately It's Mitchell's skill with language that excites most - how does the guy manage to juggle so many styles, so many distinctive voices? In the final story Shoosha's Crossing and Everything After he creates a completely new post-apocolyptic dialect of English which is both plausible and poetic. In Half Lives - The First Luisa Rey Mystery he manages to write a thriller which conforms to all the characteristics of the genre (one which I generally hate)- but which is actually a great deal better written than many of the thrillers that make the best-seller list. He makes it look so effortless too. And I found myself underlining some of Timothy Cavendish's hilarious pronouncements because they delighted me so much. Can't resist slipping in a couple of my favourite lines here:A trio of teenettes, dressed like Prostitute Barbie, approached, driftnetting the width of the pavement.Sometimes the fluffy bunny of incredulity zooms around the bend so rapidly that the greyhound of language is left, agog, in the starting cage.The only moan that I have about the book is that the Sceptre paperback version had print so small that it had me reaching for my reading glasses, and one of the least inspiring cover designs I've seen on a paperback in yonks.

Review by
3

David Mitchell's (Number9 Dream, Ghostwritten) Cloud Atlas is a great, but difficult-to-follow read. Short listed for the Booker prize it tells six different narratives told in parts and often out of order. It begins with an American's journals during a South Seas voyage. This follows with a story in 1931 of a English man working as an "amanuensis" for a blind composer. It then jumps to a reporter in the 1970s investigating a cover up at a nuclear reactor, then to a futuristic fast food robot struggling to achieve sentience, and finally onto a Hawaiian contemplating post-apocalyptic life. The unfinished stories are then completed in backwards order. Still following? No? Well like I said, it's difficult to follow.

Review by
3

A really interesting book. The second half was not as strong as the first half, but a good enjoyable read all the same. Needed some work on finishing the story off.

Review by
4

Each of the six stories has such a different voice, style and language that it is hard to imagine that one author wrote them all. An amazing journey through time and space, very cleverly written and well worth a read. Feel yourself jumping up and down when you realise the links...

Review by
4

Cloud Atlas is a worthy follow up to Ghostwritten. I can't do a better summation than this from the New YorkerAdrian Mitchell's virtuosic novel presents six narratives that evoke an array of genres, from Melvillean high-seas drama to California noir and dystopian fantasy. There is a naïve clerk on a nineteenth-century Polynesian voyage; an aspiring composer who insinuates himself into the home of a syphilitic genius; a journalist investigating a nuclear plant; a publisher with a dangerous best-seller on his hands; and a cloned human being created for slave labor. These five stories are bisected and arranged around a sixth, the oral history of a post-apocalyptic island, which forms the heart of the novel. Only after this do the second halves of the stories fall into place, pulling the novel's themes into focus: the ease with which one group enslaves another, and the constant rewriting of the past by those who control the present.Mitchell offers a lot here and perhaps it is too rich a jumble to form a completely satisfying whole but each of the diverse sections provide another surprising and contrasting experience. A super book but enough now, Mitchell can't just play the same trick again and again.

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