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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

Critic Reviews

  • 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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 2 Stars
    359
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Story

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Chanse
  • ROCHESTER, NY, United States
  • 09-25-12

Interesting book but not for me

Would you try another book from David Mitchell and/or the narrators?

No, probably not another book by David Mitchell. The narrators were good though. I was impressed with the variety of language that Mitchell was able to use, but I was not a fan of his style of writing and the story wasn't really for me either.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I was hoping for a bit more on the idea that all of the characters were connected in some way. I felt that this part was lacking. I don't really know how to explain it. I think I was hoping for more of a sci-fi view of things, but I this seemed to be more of a drama.

What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

All narrators were good. They made it easy to determine which character you were listening to and I think they added to the the way I interpreted each character.

Was Cloud Atlas worth the listening time?

No, I probably would have chosen another book.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Debra
  • Miami, FL, United States
  • 09-18-12

Fantastic

I'm a little puzzled by people who think this book is a "difficult" read. The only section that I found somewhat challenging was the post-apocalyptic era story, where the narrator uses a pigdin dialect of English. I soon got used to it, though.

Literary fiction is not my usual cup of tea because I find that rather than tell an engrossing story, the writers spend too much time on elegant prose. But this is a marvelous example of gorgeous prose married with superb storytelling. There's drama, adventure, romance, tragedy--even moments when it's laugh-out-loud funny.

I loved the characters, I loved the subtle and overt ways that the six sections connected to each other. I loved how the power storytelling itself is a recurring theme, as each subsequent character experiences the story of the previous one in some form--a journal, letters, musical composition, a novel, a movie, etc,

The performances are top-rate. It just doesn't get better than this when it comes to audiobooks.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • ken
  • Quincy, MA, United States
  • 09-13-12

Driving Story

If you could sum up Cloud Atlas in three words, what would they be?

thoughtful, exciting, interesting.

What did you like best about this story?

While the beginning was a little slow, each story picks up and the second half of the books is absolutely amazing.

Which scene was your favorite?

The 6th story takes place in a post apocalypse and is as interesting as it is thought out.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Unique

Any additional comments?

Definately a challenging read - especially at first. Is the first audio book I've ever listened to where I think it would be easier to read in print. If the premise (or the movie) look interesting to you, stick with it for a while - it is very challenging at first but improves as you move through the different stories.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Cloud Atlas

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I'm not sure. When I started listening to it, I thought it would be something that I could follow. It was a miss mash, and I didn't know what was going on, I thought WTF! Then thought I must listen to the rest to see what is going on, just when I thought I knew, I found that I didn't! I don't know who could follow the plot? I sure couldn't.

What could David Mitchell have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Connect the stories so that it made sense

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I liked a couple of the chapters, that's when I thought I knew what was going on, and then found out that I didn't

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Proof that you can polish a turd and make it shine

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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Listened To It Twice!!

Would you consider the audio edition of Cloud Atlas to be better than the print version?

I loved the voices. They brought the book to live. The narrators were excellent.

Who was your favorite character and why?

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.

What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

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.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I felt like I was in the story.

Any additional comments?

This is the only audible book I have ever listened to twice. It was that good!

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Charles
  • Michigan City, IN, United States
  • 08-21-12

Confusing...

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...

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

5 stars for 5

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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Bravo!

Any additional comments?

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!