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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

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 03-16-07

I guess I didn’t get it…

Given the many excellent reviews that led me to this novel, I expected quite a bit. Although this was not a bad book, I was not terribly impressed. Although it had a slightly interesting structure, it was far from groundbreaking. The various novelettes are, on there own, passable, but they are only loosely linked. Although there is an overall theme, it was hardly unique or impressive. The character development is in the style of a novel, but with the word count of several short stories – which I found limiting. Yes, the novel echoes Melville, Huxley, Steinbeck and Sterne, but it is only a weak, derivative, echo. While listening to this novel I was consistently thinking about the far more perfect novels the imitative writing brought to mind. Near the half-way point I nearly gave up listening, but the stories finally did link and the novel did have a semi-coherent (if old hat) message. The second half was much more interesting than the first half. At the end I was only disappointed because I expected so much.

8 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Brilliant

I've contemplated listening to this book for quite some time, but was wary because of some negative reviews. I am so glad I took the risk. This may be one of the most brilliantly written and narrated books I've experienced. Even if one doesn't immediately get all the connections between the stories, each one is noteworthy in inself. I found myself thinking back on it long after it was complete. I definitely need a second listen, and look forward to it.

15 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Listened to it twice, and may again

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

an amazing novel

What did you like best about this story?

The way it carries an interesting theme through hundreds of years.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of the narrators?

Replace Scott Brick, every sentence read by him is too dramatic.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Mitzi
  • MADISON, AL, United States
  • 11-15-12

Really Disappointing

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

I'm not sure who would enjoy this, I'm sure some did, I couldn't find the characters likable nor could I relate to them.

Has Cloud Atlas turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, I love the genre, just not this book.

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

This book was wonderfully performed.

What character would you cut from Cloud Atlas?

I didn't get through it, so I don't know

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

a concert of

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

Back and Forth

What was most disappointing about David Mitchell’s story?

There were some great stories in the mix, and some real stinkers. Loosely they were linked together to make a story, and it felt like it was loosely linked together.

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

Not in the lest. I liked the over all feel of it much more then I liked a single hour sitting.

Any additional comments?

There is a lot of hype over this book because of how it progresses, but I persnally felt like I had to wade through a lot to get there.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

It's so dull

I really tried to get through it. I made it to the third story couldn't take it anymore. There are no redeeming qualities to give this book. I can't believe this was made into a movie and now I understand why its tanking.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Yikes ! No Thank You

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

By the author probably not, by the narrators definitely yes

Would you ever listen to anything by David Mitchell again?

I'm really not sure. It's possible I would try another one of his books.

Which scene was your favorite?

I don't really have one

What character would you cut from Cloud Atlas?

the book was like a jigsaw puzzle. You really could not cut anyone.

Any additional comments?

I struggled to get through this book. It reminded me of an abstract painting...you can't figure out what the heck you're looking at or what the heck it's supposed to mean! I could have skipped through the entire book and just listened to the last paragraph or two .

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Kelly
  • Omaha, NE, United States
  • 11-05-12

Not difficult to keep track of the characters

I don't know why some reviewers think this is a difficult listen. Maybe they just have too many other things going on while they listen to audiobooks. Focus people! ; )

It's a very entertaining story and I had no trouble following.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • hh
  • pdx United States
  • 10-16-12

Ok, but not really living up to all the hype

Any additional comments?

Just prior to buying this audiobook I bought the hardcover Cloud Atlas. But it turned out it was a different novel, author Callanan. So I listened to this book (nice) and then read the other, wondering if it was in any way inspired by the more famous one. Answer, no. A completely different story, one about WWII and the little hot air balloon bombs sent aloft to the west coast of America by the Japanese as part of their war effort. It's also about some characters who seem soaked in Catch 22 sensibility, a love story involving a clairvoyant Eskimo and choices we all make about life and death. And I must say, I enjoyed it more. Relevance? If like me you've been caught up in the hype about the Mitchell book, it may prove a little disappointing. It certainly has merit and some sections are very strong, but others much less so. Be tolerant if you come on the ride.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andre
  • Ithaca, NY, United States
  • 08-22-05

Miserably disjointed book

There are about 6 different stories in this book, leading almost noplace. There are some feeble, unconvincing attempts to find some relationship between them. The overall effect is truly boring; I could hardly wait to have it over with.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful