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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
  • 5 Stars
    2,263
  • 4 Stars
    1,372
  • 3 Stars
    750
  • 2 Stars
    349
  • 1 Stars
    273

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,391
  • 4 Stars
    1,015
  • 3 Stars
    340
  • 2 Stars
    141
  • 1 Stars
    125

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,874
  • 4 Stars
    1,013
  • 3 Stars
    627
  • 2 Stars
    293
  • 1 Stars
    223
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Different, but very good book.

This is a very different book. I knew nothing about it and was just taking a chance on an author I'd heard about. In the beginning I was honestly turned off but when I realized the format I could enjoy it much better. I would definitely recommend. It's amazing how the author could write so drastically different in each of these short stories. I love how he takes us forward and then backward, each time revealing more.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lindsey
  • Menlo Park, CA, United States
  • 10-23-10

very good

The book starts out a bit slow, but gets better and better. Definitely worth the time. Very creative storytelling.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

a bit bizantine, but enjoyable

This book is made of several different stories, spanning different epoques. As such, each of the stories would need a separate review. The fact is that the stories are only superficially, almost artificially connected among themselves. It almost feels like the author needed an excuse to show the public how well he could write a novel in the "memoir" style, another one in the "thriller style", another one in the "letter form" and in the "sci-fi" style and so on, in juts one single book. once said that the stories are all enjoyable and the narrators are all extremely good. worth the time, but cannot call it a masterpiece.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Reader
  • United States
  • 08-13-10

Fabulous, complicated story

I loved the complicated structure and the intertwined story lines. I would have liked this to go on forever.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wow

Cloud Atlas takes literary device to what one would think would be ridiculous levels. The book has a nested doll structure that five times stops the reader mid-story. You get to see the front of a doll before it is swallowed by its companion. The sixth doll swallows the fifth and you get view it front and back before 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 are released so you may view their backsides.

Each story has its own reader and they all do commendable work, with a particular tip of the hat to the reader of the sixth story who makes a thick dialect sing.

I loved listening to this book. The story was continually engaging, entertaining and thought provoking. One thing I would suggest. Don't worry when the first story jarringly turns into the second. It's by design. Enjoy the ride from the past to the distant future and back.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

a

Extraordinary. A true literary achievement. The writing and imagination of a genius able to span the history of the world and a spectrum of minute emotions. Every narrator is good and don't be alarmed when the first story seems to end suddenly, it will return.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

best combination of stories and authentic voices

I am new to audible, and audio books in general. This book and my previous audio fiction "The Bonfire of Vanity" show me what I have been missing. Instead of reading a book and try to imagine the characters' voices, I now really enjoy voices done by professionals, whose voice add realistic dimensions to the story's characters.

I listen to Audible's Cloud Atlas and follow the narration with the book open. Bristish accents, illiterate Hawaii herder's accent for example all become alive and real, with emotions! (The book adds visual spelling of names, foreign phrases for memory's aide, and also add proper demarcation of italics or parentheses not easily discernible from narrator's pause or reading.)

A very well made audio production combined with an intricate thought provoking novel.

4 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Literary Stone Soup

This book attempts to be innovative and unique but as each story stone is dropped into the soup it becomes more convoluted...somehow the book needed some sort of ingredient to bind the various ingredients into a literary stone soup that could be nourishing, interesting, and intellectually palatable. As it was it was one of those recipes with so many ingredients that they could never simmer into an enjoyable "read."

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Strung out across centuries

This far-reaching set of interconnected stories has a lot of reach, and it takes you many hours of listening before you start to put it together. When you do, it's a fascinating concept carried to a conclusion that gets stretched a bit. The writing is virtuosic; as Mitchell jumps between centuries, so do his dialog and style.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Lanakila
  • Holly Springs, NC, USA
  • 02-18-08

So Where Does It All Come Together?

I kept plowing through this story hoping that things would come together in some brilliant way but was sorely disappointed! While there were bits and pieces of interesting storytelling, the Louisa Rey vignettes mostly, the piece as a whole was a real loser.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful