Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

December 23, 2012 § 2 Comments

I just bought this book. And like most of the books I buy, I had expected to keep it on my shelves, unread, for a very long time. Mitchell’s only got five books out so far, and I didn’t want to go through all of them too quickly.

But then I had to go and watch the trailer to Cloud Atlas, the movie. The brief minute or so was so beautiful, so visual, that I knew I had to read the book.

The thing is, I think I’ve rather lost the knack for writing about what I read. What does my watching the movie trailer have to do with my reading the book? Well, nothing, and everything, really. Though even just for those brief seconds, I saw Sonmi-451, and had her features permanently etched into my mind’s eye. Just like that, imagery from the trailer stayed with me throughout my reading experience.

Does this even change anything?

Frankly, I don’t know. I found myself struggling a little, sometimes, when visuals from the trailer tried to force their way into my head while I was making up the world in my head. And then I decided, what the heck, I should just let Sonmi-451 be Sonmi-451.

Cloud Atlas the book is amazing. I remember loving number9dream, but this one is definitely better. It’s 6 stories weaved into one, and while you can see how it’s going to tie into each other, quite early on in fact, what really gets the book and story going is what actually happens in each individual segment, for want of better word.

** I’ve decided that there’s really no way to articulate what the book is about. At least, not while I’m in this current state of mind. I’ll just point you kind reader, or my future self, to THIS webpage here, where anothercookiecrumbles paints just enough colours to see what Cloud Atlas is about, without giving away everything.

My experience of it though? It was like climbing a mountain.

Every time the story shifted, I felt myself being left to hang on a balance. Sometimes it felt like I was walking on a tightrope, and suddenly the safety net is taken away. Other times I’d be climbing a huge tree, lightning strikes, and I end up barely holding on to a twig that’s about the break.

At each shift, that’s what Mitchell did to me.

But with each beginning of the next story, he lulls me into a false sense of comfort and security. He places me gently onto a bed of fur, or a huge field of sunflowers, stands back slowly and lets me explore the beautiful scenes he paints with words. I’m looking and following the indications, going where he takes me, and before I know it, I’m standing at the edge of a cliff.

I went through the second half of the book much more slowly than I did the first half. Maybe it was because the stories were starting to end, one by one, and I didn’t really want them to. By the time I got to the end of the book, I was already thinking of wanting to go back to re-read it again.

How would it feel now, knowing how everything gets tied up in the end?

How different of an experience would it be if I read the six different stories as individual novellas instead of being part of a novel?


One writes music because winter is eternal and because if one didn’t, the wolves and blizzards would be at one’s throat all the sooner.


Her father told her how war photographers refer to an immunity from fear bestowed by the camera lens;…


Cloud Atlas Sextet holds my life, is my life, now I’m a spent firework; but at least I’ve been a firework.


My only wish now, is that the book could sing. What does Cloud Atlas Sextet sound like, and how would it make me feel?


§ 2 Responses to Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

  • michelle says:

    I have always had the impression that I would find Mitchell’s books intimidating and am afraid they would be way too ‘deep’ for me to get it. But your review has made it sound quite, quite irresistible. For an attempt, at least.

    • Michelle says:

      I’ve read only two so far, and while they are quite heavyweight, I have to say that they are so much worth the effort. Beautiful writing, brilliant storytelling.

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