Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell


Mark Haddon

'Funny, exciting, imaginative and energetic.'

Tim Lott, Evening Standard



I know it is said that you should never judge a book by its cover, but with Cloud Atlas I have to confess I did. Despite the critical acclaim it received when published, I didn't know anything about the novel when I first bought it. Rather it was the attractive pink and turquoise cover - along with the cheery sounding title - which prompted me to initially pick it up. Fortunately I was not disappointed and the novel lived up to the praise it had already been given.

Despite my overall enjoyment of the book, the first thirty-or-so pages did not have me enthralled from the word go. The book opens by introducing Adam Ewing by means of his journal about his travels in the nineteenth century. Initially the story was rather mundane and I admit to plodding through the first twenty pages. However, from there on things slowly started to pick up and as I was just beginning to enjoy it, the story was cut short quite literally mid-sentence. The next page then started an entirely new story and this is where the beauty of Cloud Atlas revealed itself.

The book is made up of six different stories set through the ages, all of which have some small link to one another. Every story slowly drew me in, only to then stop on a cliff hanger as the book moved on to the next story. Initially this style of story telling was quite confusing and, at times, required a lot of effort. However, as each story progressed the theme of the book slowly became apparent, enticing me on. Throughout the novel, Mitchell writes of the progression of society until in the sixth story (and the middle of the book) we see what the world has become as a result of what has yet to occur in the previous five stories. As the novel then passes back down through the other stories, the actions of the characters in each one make the outcome in the sixth more understandable.

Cloud Atlas is not an easy novel to describe and I don't think even my best attempt has explained how the complex story works. Ultimately the book does a complete circle through time looking at the effects that one small action has on the future. The story ends back where it began with Mr. Ewing and his final line, I think, nicely summarises the idea of the story. I won't spoil it for you though. Just take my advice - read the book yourself. It's definitely worth it!



Reviewed on 07/03/2006 by Angela


Reviewed item details

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and winner of the Richard and Judy Best Read of the Year.

ISBN: 0-340-82278-3

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RRP: ?7.99



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