Amy Reads Books

Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell knew from reading the first few pages of Cloud Atlas that I would really enjoy this book; but it was ultimately unlike anything I expected. Mitchell ties together six tales which spread across time, place and even genres and are all tied together in various ways.Mitchell transports us from the American law notary Adam Ewing's journals of his explorations of the Australian islands in the 19th century, to destitute Englishman Robert Froshbier's letters to a lover from the home of a musician in Belgium in the 1930s, to the story of the feisty American journalist Luisa Ray in the 1970s, the memoir of publisher Timothy Cavendish in present day England (I think its present day), an interview with Sonmi-450 in a future earth and the campfire story of Zachry in a post-apocalyptic world.I was just in awe of Mitchell's ability to create such 3D characters and situations in so many different stories. I wanted to know more about Rufus Sixsmith, Zachry, the strange dystopian world of Sonmi and I could have eagerly read an entire novel on Luisa Ray (who was my favourite character). To me, Mitchell's ideas were pretty ingenious; I loved the world that was created post-'Fall', where society had pretty much reverted to tribal living where their deity was a creature invented by Darwin (this makes sense when you find out what the deity is...but it made me smile), and the idea of a distant future of sub-tribes was really intriguing; having an element of the film The Island involved in this. Another thing I loved was Mitchell's varying use of language for his characters; Ewing had archaic spellings, Sonmi-450's capitalisation of words and Zachry's spoken-word story is written entirely in dialect, which was a little daunting at first, but made for a very...true...experience.As well as being a really good, character-driven story, Mitchell also explores the idea of power; what it is that makes humans grab power and keep others suppressed. This idea rears its head in different ways throughout the novel; from the historical examples that we have placed in our pasts to the much more sinister ways in which people may plan to keep others subservient in a dying, globalised world.Seriously, I really really enjoyed this novel; perhaps the only thing I disliked was not getting to spend longer with each character, but the prose and the clever ideas made it pretty much un-putt-downable for me.