I may have just read one of my favorite books of my entire life. Or at least my favorite book of my Peace Corps service. David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas has had me consumed for the past couple weeks. His novel of about 500 pages accompanied me wherever I went. I read it in bed every night, at work, on the toilet, at friend’s houses, in coffee shops and on buses. I could not put this book down nor fathom leaving it for another time.
I originally gifted this book to Whitney after having read the rave reviews and being attracted to the cover cart. Lucky for me, Whitney re-gifted it back to me after saying she was bored by the first few pages. The book does start a tad slow, but if you hold on, your in for a literary adventure that will keep you entertained for hours.
Cloud Atlas comes in 11 different parts and spans the lives of 6 important characters. Each narrative is written in a different style. Together they span thousands of years and thousands of miles. The 11 parts and 6 narratives are expertly woven together in a way that has the reader solving puzzles and looking for hints. As you go along, there are ‘light-bulb’ moments where you realize just how intricately organized things are. And at the end, when it all comes together, you can’t help but sit back and say “fuck that was awesome.”
Cloud Atlas contains a little bit of everything. There is pirate-esque fiction from the 19th century. A tale of love and lust from the early 1920s. A thrilling murder mystery set in the 1970s with social commentary. A hilarious and cringing account of a duped old man in modern day. Futuristic science-fiction. And a post-apocalyptic story set in the far future. Mitchell bounces from the South Seas, to Belgium, over to California, then to England, Korea and then Hawaii. The audience is constantly entertained by the tantalizing cliff hangers, shifts in geography, writing style and storyline.
Apparently there is a movie re-make of Mitchell’s book. I’ve read a little bit about it and must admit, I am curious. It has a pretty strong cast and was well recieved by the public and some critics. The other part of me wants to not take the risk with the film and stay happily content in my literary world. If it’s easily watchable somewhere on the internet, I’ll probably have a look. But I won’t go searching high and low for it, just in case I am let down.
If you have the attention span and memory to appreciate a good novel, Cloud Atlas needs to have a spot on your reading list. Because it is so expansive, I have a hard time believing that the common reader won’t enjoy it. I am now officially curious about what else David Mitchell has to offer. He has a myriad of other really popular books that I will quickly purchase or download. Let’s just hope they can stand up to Cloud Atlas.