Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Summary From Goodreads:

The narrators hear their echoes in history and change their destinies in ways great and small, in a study of humanity's dangerous will to power. A reluctant voyager crosses the Pacific in 1850. A disinherited composer gatecrashes in between-wars Belgium. A vanity publisher flees gangland creditors. Others are a journalist in Governor Reagan’s California, and genetically-modified dinery server on death-row. Finally, a young Pacific Islander witnesses the nightfall of science and civilization.

Ah, Cloud Atlas. It's been quite awhile since I have been properly infatuated with a book. This particular read has gotten a playlist out of me, and made me feel this compelling desire to shove it down people's throats. With my sister's throat being the closest, I pummeled it down hers, but with unfavorable results. She said it was weird, and that I was weird. But ultimately agreed to set it aside for future reading. But perhaps only to appease an already shouty me. Droning monologue, stops here. 

Cloud Atlas is a grand novel containing six interrelated stories, of differing narrative structure and genre. The first story is a travelogue, told in the voice of an edgy notary speaking in a very formal language. The second is an epistolary story, with the letters written by a sharp-tongued penniless musician. The third is of the mystery genre, headed by a tough female journalist, doggedly pursuing a lead. The fourth is a picaresque story of an elderly publisher. The fifth is science fiction, with a protagonist in the form of an ascending clone in a futuristic Korea. The sixth, a tribesman from a degraded world speaking in pidgin English. See how massively diverse these stories are? Yet Mitchell is a brilliant craftsman and manages to tie them all together through certain recurring elements. And he skips from one genre to another, from one narrative style to another with such ease that it never feels wonky or disjointed. And each story is very fully realized. The characters are unique and memorable, the world building is one that you can get lost in, the dialogue is sharp and smart. The result is a grand, awe-inspiring, exciting tale, with a narrative scope that reaches far and wide. 

I admit it took me awhile to get a grip on the grandness of the story, but when I did, I somehow felt fear and wonder, maybe like being in space. (I haven't been to space, but that is how I think I'll feel if I somehow get reincarnated into a space traveler, or The Doctor's companion :D). Mitchell touches on the idea of interconnected-ness. Probably like the six degrees of separation theory, only more ambitious in range. He speaks of souls never leaving this earth, only crossing and recrossing each other, and evolving from from good to bad to something in between, and back again. He speaks of love and passion and freedom and oppression. It's a beautiful, ambitious piece of storytelling.

I don't begrudge my sister for shying away from Cloud Atlas. The book opens with The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing, narrated in a very challenging formal language. But mostly I think it's the ideas that take a bit of getting used to. And to those who have a slightest bit of inkling in reading this, or maybe even the total skeptics, or everyone on this planet,  I do hope you'll all take a leap of faith. And it's not as much of a difficult read, and is quite accessible, once you get into it. In fact, Mitchell wishes to do away with the whole high brow, low brow distinction.

 He talks about the two-way “leap of faith” that permits his fiction to break through every lock of “brow” as it skips between realism and fantasy, past and future.

“Who cares about ‘brow’? I don’t care,” he says. “Is it one of those books where you’re turning the pages and your glands – all your glands – are being affected?... Your heartbeat is being changed by words about things which aren’t real. Isn’t that amazing? That’s what I want to do. Highbrow, middlebrow, lowbrow – if it’s doing that, great. And if it’s not, I’d rather read something that does.”

Article: David Mitchell interview: 'It's high stakes. Do it wrong and you've got a broken book' 
Source: The Independent

 I wanna hug David Mitchell, metaphorically. :)

PS. I also wanna give a metaphorical hug to my lovely Cloud Atlas buddies! I don't think I'll appreciate or understand this book as much as I do now, without you lovely lassies. Yihee! :) Ghostwritten next year!


  1. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!! (capslock and multiple exclamation points para #feel)

    I am still gathering my thoughts for my write up. The novel demands more than just fangirling, no? I'm glad I read this book with you as well. I'm excited for Ghostwritten It's the one thing that makes me look forward to the new year. ;)

    P.S. Keep Calm and Look At My Comet (Pwede din, Keep Calm and Look At My Babbit.)

    1. LYNAIIIIIII! Pagawan na ng t-shirt yan! Nakaka-hyper si David Mitchell!!!!!! XD

      Looking forward to Ghostwritten!!!!

  2. Fear and wonder, yes! Group hug, everyone! In outer space. XD

  3. I am SO glad you took that leap of faith. You will need to do that again with his other books. :) YAY!

    1. Hey Monique! I am more than willing in taking another leap, and another, and another. :D

  4. HUG!!! Sorry, my hug is late. Hehe. I revived our buddy reading chat thread. I miss talking aboout this book. :P

    1. Late hugs are still hugs! *hugs* Huwag na nga talaga i-close yang thread na yan! :D


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