Many, many, many friends, readers, reviewers, media outlets told me I would like this book. I did not. It took two attempts to get going on this work, years apart, as the first one was aborted for the reasons that one places a book down when one is 25% through it. You are bored with it. Something better comes in front of your eyes and you want to read that instead or whatever. Nonetheless people kept telling me to read it, or read David Mitchell. So I thought I would try it again. I am not sad that i did. Nor is this one of those cases where i would like the twenty some odd hours that i spent listening to it back. Rather, I would just like to present a dissenting voice to those that have been recommended to read/listen to this book.
First off let me say that Mitchell is a writer of intelligence and with significant literary gifts. That said, I feel like this book, while being well written, intricately structured and novel in its form, is, nonetheless devoid of what it is i enjoy most about literature. By the end of the book i just felt cheated. Cheated, because Mitchell can write, but chose to beat me over the head with a blunt tool, instead of using the other end of it to carve out a rich world that had depth to it. There are 6 narratives in this book that are only superficially connected. I say superficially as the way in which DM binds them is ultimately meaningless, so that what one is left with 6 independent novellas. Some are better than others, but for the most part they are all well written; some are even enjoyable. Mitchell spans aeons, styles, genres, in each of these independent novellas. But the books weakness is it's inability to tie these disparate facets together in way that is meaningful and not just literary slight of hand.
I loved the voices. They brought the book to live. The narrators were excellent.
The story of Adam Ewing made me want to sail the seas in the 1850s. The boat comes alive, with his description of his voyage across the Pacific.
Zachary in the narration of the Hawaii of the future. I could just about hear the thundering of the hooves as the Kona warriors' horses rode by.
I felt like I was in the story.
This is the only audible book I have ever listened to twice. It was that good!
I'm sorry but I don't get it. I'm in the middle of my second listen to this book thinking maybe I just missed some critical juncture in the stories, but so far I still haven't found it .
The narrators are wonderful as usual for those in this book. But the wonderful narration only makes the not getting it worse. Will not be recommending this one...
NV, not NY
This novel is comprised of five very distinct stories all incorporating the theme, as Dr. Goose put it, "the weak are meat and the strong eat." The stories are wedding cake tiered upon each other meaning 4 of the stories are split into 2 parts with only the 5th, top tier, being told from beginning to end. Readers beware that the first story ends in the middle of a sentence so that you'll think something is wrong with the recording. None of the other stories do that.
Two of the stories are voiced with English accents, which I found a liitle disconcerting for the first several minutes, but I soon became accustomed. Actually, I was compelled to pay attention to the conversation (mostly first person narrative) due shearly to the fact that David Mitchell is so witty, humorous, and cleaver, I didn't want to miss anything.
I've never heard anything like the top tier story told from a Pacific Islander point of view. The Pidgen English of this narrative was also a little disconcerting at first, but after awhile I found myself marveling at the amazing vocabulary the author put together to pull this off. It must have taken an enormous amount of time and research.
I picked this book due to the good reviews and I'll pass it forward, though not for anyone looking for a light read.
I just finished listening and all I can say is this is so worth the time. It starts a bit slow but just gets better and better with every character and story added. Tremendous!
I took a while to be hooked by this story; the first change of scene totally took me by surprise. I loved the book and plan to listen again before long.
My main reason to write a review however is to praise John Lee as narrator. Everything I have that he has narrated I have loved, i. e. Count of Monte Cristo, Robinson Crusoe--but his character in this was superb! I don't think I have ever laughed so hard listening to an audio book. Which is also high praise for David Mitchell--the disparity between his characters is amazing and he makes them all interesting. And to write something so funny--in a not funny novel for the most part--that is TALENT!
Purchased Cloud Atlas on a whim, having never heard of David Mitchell and having no idea of the upcoming movie, and supremely glad that I did. The novel, or more accurately, the 6 interrelated short stories had me captivated immediately.
The structure of the book is such that each story appears in chronologic order interrupting, usually abruptly, the story preceding it until climaxing with the sixth story in full. Each story is then revisited and resolved in the reverse sequence to which it had originally appeared. This twist on story telling, which by the author's own admission is either "revolutionary or gimmicky", is a pleasant change from your typical story formats.
Each story is singular in place, time period and voice. From an 1850's merchant vessel in the South Pacific to a post-apocalyptic Hawaiian tribe in the distant future. This allows the book to encompass a variety of genres: historical fiction, pulp fiction, mystery, and science fiction. So, whatever your brand of whiskey is, you're more than apt to be satisfied here.
The author impressively adapts his writing style and dialect to the time periods and genre of each individual story. At first this may present the reader (or listener) with some challenges, but I believe you'll find you adapt quickly. It also allows each narrator to shine - and shine they do! The narration of this book is among the best you'll ever hear with each author bringing their unique skill and style to the table. The end result is not unlike a quilt where each unique patch is weaved together into a cohesive whole.
While the narrative itself is not too complex, there is certainly more going on in this story than meets the eye. Cloud Atlas is not short on layers and meanings. One of the first things I did after finishing this book was look up reviews and analysis from other readers to see if they picked up on subtler plot lines that I may have missed. I really appreciate a book that makes me do this.
In closing, I highly recommend this book. Note that, like most books, there is mature subject matter and some disturbing content. That said, I really enjoyed this book. Go read (or listen) to it before the movie comes out!
Didn't quite know what to expect from this book. Got it on the recommendation of a friend and just started listening with very little knowledge of what the book was about. It is an intricate telling of individual stories all connected to one another in some way. Was a little slow to start. Caught fire in the middle. And then it slowly ended. It is a hard listen if you do not pay close attention. You will not see the connections in the stories. I have to say overall I really enjoyed this book. I would compare his style to something like Kurt Vonnegut in the sense that a good many characters in the stories appear again or are an integral part in other stories in the book.
It was very disjointed and just a very hard listen
Looking for a good mystery maybe some Wallander
I couldn't make it through to let you know
I hear they are making it into a movie maybe that would be easier to follow?
I wanted so badly to love this book. When I didn't understand the audiobook -- too much listening while falling asleep and missing key points -- I bought the hardcover. I was determined to see why this story got such rave reviews. After spending months trying to wrestle this beast to the ground, I still didn't get it. I had a feeling that Mitchell wrote this book to prove how smart he is, rather than to entertain. I expect an author to enlist me as an ally. Instead, I felt intimidated and alienated. If you do very well with a story with multiple characters and leaps back and forth in time, you'll probably like it. Unless you have to listen to it for a book group or class, or to impress your friends, don't do it!