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Cloud Atlas | [David Mitchell]

Cloud Atlas

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: This is an ingenious novel composed of six embedded stories interconnected with subtle nuance and utter finesse. Brilliant prose, sharp social criticism, and six distinct narratives combine to make this a superb listen. The varying narrations provide unique tones and voices for each story, perfectly mimicking Mitchell's writing. I'd have given Mitchell the Booker Prize for this. —Chris Doheny

Publisher's Summary

From David Mitchell, the Booker Prize nominee, award-winning writer, and one of the featured authors in Granta's Best of Young British Novelists 2003 issue, comes his highly anticipated third novel, a work of mind-bending imagination and scope.

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 civilization: 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.

In his captivating third novel, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre, and time to offer a meditation on humanity's dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.

This audiobook is available exclusively as an audio download!

Note to customers: The complicated format of this novel makes it seem that the audio may be cutting off before the end of a story, accompanied by a change in narrator. However, this is the author's intention, so please continue to listen, and the stories will conclude themselves as intended.

©2004 David Mitchell; (P)2004 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Literary Fiction

"[Mitchell's] exuberant, Nabokovian delight in word play; his provocative grapplings with the great unknowables; and most of all his masterful storytelling: all coalesce to make Cloud Atlas an exciting, almost overwhelming masterpiece." (Washington Times)

"[Cloud Atlas] glows with a fizzy, dizzy energy, pregnant with possibility and whispering in your ear: listen closely to a story, any story, and you'll hear another story inside it, eager to meet the world." (The Village Voice)

"A remarkable book....It knits together science fiction, political thriller, and historical pastiche with musical virtuosity and linguistic exuberance: there won't be a bigger, bolder novel next year." (The Guardian)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (3494 )
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4.2 (2651 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Nan Chatham, IL, United States 11-05-12
    Nan Chatham, IL, United States 11-05-12 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mind = blown"

    One of the most amazing books I've ever read. I have been listening with audible, but following along on my Nook. Not because the story is unintelligible but because I don't want to miss a single nuance. I love these characters, some of them because they are so loveable, some of the precisely because they are not. The author's use of language is masterful, the story well crafted.

    I read the book after seeing the movie. I love them both, for entirely different reasons. The movie is a visual treat and tells the stories very well. But the movie lacks the grace and nuance of the book. Yes, grace. This book is not graceful, but does have its own grace and beauty.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S Wells 10-25-12
    S Wells 10-25-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    "Amazing & worth it"

    Thanks to the earlier reviewers who warned about the mid-chapter cut-offs as each of the six stories transition from one to the other -- especially the first one. I would have spent a hour trying to figure out how I screwed up the download or accidentally hit something on my MP3 when the first character stops speaking mid-sentence. And, it's true that the first character takes some patience, but stick with him.

    One reviewer said the story goes like this 6 5 4 3 2 1 2 3 4 5 6, and that was so helpful for me. (Sorry, I can't remember who you are to give you attribution.) It was so helpful that I'm repeating it for potential readers.

    Have faith, dear reader, it all comes together as each story progresses.

    This is one that's stuck with me long after I finished it, and in fact, I'm considering grabbing the book (the one with paper pages) to see what it's like with words on the page.

    I have no idea how on earth they've made this into a movie because the book is remarkable.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angie West Haven, UT, United States 10-20-12
    Angie West Haven, UT, United States 10-20-12 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "You can be a big part of the ocean!!!!"
    What did you love best about Cloud Atlas?

    There are parts of this book that were as good as anything I've read (Sonmi~451 a Clone) and parts that bored the hell out of me. The overarching theme kept me coming back for more.

    The book has characters and plots and all that sugary goodness but it ends with Mitchell's view:
    "For the human species, selfishness is extinction...If we believe that humanity might transcend tooth and claw . . . if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable, and the riches of the earth and its oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass. I am not deceived; it is the hardest of worlds to make real."

    Or the opposing view: "Your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean."

    "Yet, what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"


    What other book might you compare Cloud Atlas to and why?

    I can't compare to anything because it is very unique.


    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    With all the different stories in this book, it REQUIRED all the narrators it was entrusted with.


    If you could take any character from Cloud Atlas out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Sonmi~451---she was so enlightened and I just wanted to hug her and hug her. She was my favorite part of this book and I almost wish there was a whole book devoted to her alone.


    Any additional comments?

    I've said too much already.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julianne Petersburg, AK, United States 10-13-12
    Julianne Petersburg, AK, United States 10-13-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting & well read!"

    I enjoyed the unique plot, individual stories, and the subtle/not-so-subtle plot connections between characters. I note some reviewers were concerned about losing details in the audio version. I may have missed a couple, but didn't find it a problem overall. Very well written, interesting use of language, and great performances. I recommend!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike NORTH LOGAN, UT, United States 10-08-12
    Mike NORTH LOGAN, UT, United States 10-08-12 Member Since 2014

    Kowalski, someone's looking at my profile. Find them. Rico, time for boom boom. Private, send the family a funeral bouquet.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fastastic writing, great narration"
    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    The moral of the story seems to be, "isn't it horrible how terrible people are to each other. It never changes, but maybe if we all could take a step back and really see the big picture we would get to together and build a better world."


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Pittsburgh, PA, United States 10-01-12
    Matthew Pittsburgh, PA, United States 10-01-12 Member Since 2011
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    2
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    Story
    "Cloud Atlas"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, the multiple narrators added to the overarching themes.


    What other book might you compare Cloud Atlas to and why?

    100 Years of Solitude. It had big themes told across multiple story lines


    Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annika 10-01-12
    Annika 10-01-12

    indiannika

    ratings
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    5
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    "Wonderful reading"
    What did you like about this audiobook?

    The various readers made me forget sometimes that the characters aren't real.
    The story starts a little slow, but give it a chance - it is worth it to stay till the end!
    One thing I wish other reviews had said - yes, one section does indeed end in the middle of a sentence. I have never read a hard copy which would have made this obvious, so I was certain something was wrong with my copy, which is not the case!


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Johnny Tugboat Chicago, IL 09-27-12
    Johnny Tugboat Chicago, IL 09-27-12 Member Since 2015
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    2
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    Story
    "Just Blown Away"
    What made the experience of listening to Cloud Atlas the most enjoyable?

    I loved how each story was done by a different narrator to match the different style the author chose for that party of the novel. The narrator's matched the tone of the story so well. The author does a great job of slowly revealing his point through these amazingly nested stories.

    The connections between stories and even the explanations of why they pause and move onto the next story were very clever, almost effortless. You feel connected to each character and the author weaves his themes throughout time. In the beginning the stories are just enjoyable but you aren't sure where the author is going with it all. Yet his arcs get clearer and clearer until he pulls it all together nicely at the end. Wow.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jenny Greenville, SC USA 09-26-12
    Jenny Greenville, SC USA 09-26-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    "Audio enhances the Cloud Atlas experience"
    Would you listen to Cloud Atlas again? Why?

    Absolutely. The central chapter, written in a Hawaiian post-apocalyptic dialect, is very challenging in print and makes much more sense when heard. The varying readers do an excellent job portraying the varied tone and generations of the sections.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Cloud Atlas?

    The punchline of sorts to the end of the Somni story.


    Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

    Robert Frobisher


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is dense and literary. The audio may make it more accessible. The first six chapters end mid-way, but this is the design of the book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Aroma Park, IL, United States 09-17-12
    James Aroma Park, IL, United States 09-17-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    10
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    "Unique and unforgettable book"
    Where does Cloud Atlas rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top ten


    What other book might you compare Cloud Atlas to and why?

    Does not compare with other books I usually enjoy


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Our lives effect others, in the past, present and future


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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