When I decided to pick Cloud Atlas for November’s CC Book Club, I knew it was an ambitious decision. I’ve heard great things about the book, but that some of it can be a bit of a chore to get through. And I would have to whole-heartedly agree with that statement. As always, read at your own risk as there will be SPOILERS.
Cloud Atlas was an epic adventure, and one that changed almost daily for me. The book is written as 6 separate narratives, all set in different time periods, with a different set of characters. Really, it’s a bit like reading a different novel every time the story changes. The first half of the book consists of an introduction to the 6 storylines, each ending with a bit of a cliffhanger, somehow connected to the story previous. For example, the second narrator is reading the journals of the first. The second half of Cloud Atlas comes back to the 6 narratives and finishes each off, some in a satisfying way and others not so much. After getting through about 1/3 of the novel, I began to pick up on the fact that the characters are reincarnations of each other, a fact that Mitchell himself as confirmed. A mysterious comet-shaped bookmark that many of them possess indicates this. The idea of the whole storyline (as disconnected as it is), is that over time souls can change and live their lives better or worse the next time around.
I enjoyed the book, but it certainly isn’t one my favourite reads ever. I have to admit, I was a tad confused at times with the jumping storylines that were cut off as soon as they started getting good. I will applaud Mitchell on that one; just as I felt like I had a grasp on the story and related to the characters, he switched it up on me! The writing was also very clever, perhaps too clever at times. A few of the storylines were diluted with wit and hard to get through, but usually ended close to the time I was beginning to get weary.
Now for your thoughts; what did you enjoy about Cloud Atlas? Has anyone had a chance to see the film? How does it compare to the novel?
And for our December pick, I’ve chosen The Ages of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker!