Saturday, February 7, 2009

Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

What a cool concept for a book: nesting stories like Russian babushka dolls. I read a later book of Mitchell's and thoroughly enjoyed it but was still leary of this one given that I already knew that Mitchell pushed the time period of at least one (turns out it was two) of his stories into the realm of the future and I am not often happy to follow where speculative fiction leads. But this was a marvelous book that managed to keep me engaged even through the sections about which I initially worried. Mitchell takes us through the centuries and around the world in his amazingly inter-linked story novel. We start in the 1850's in the tropics reading the diary of an upstanding American notary traveling home from an assignment. The diary ends abruptly mid-sentence as we jump to letters written to a friend by a penniless English composer in the Netherlands. We leave our composer mid-story to detail a young female detective in California looking into the suspicious deaths of several people in connection with a power plant funding corporate greed and carelessness. Our detective in mortal peril, we move onto a disheartening modern day England where a small publisher fleeing the thug brothers of his most famous author is committed to an assisted living home by his brother. Onward to a Korea set in the future where bio-engineering and corporate dissimulation have reached new terrifying highs. And thence to an island in the Pacific where the remnants of civilization, starting over after an unnamed catastrophic event has almost completely decimated the human race, we come to the apex of the story. Each story ties into the previous story in inventive ways and the arc of the story, especially as it gains momentum, running back through the earlier stories and telling the tales originally left untold, is masterful. This was well worth the time I spent and once I understood and accepted the form, it moved along swimmingly.

1 comment:

  1. So glad to see you enjoyed this book. I loved it - David Mitchell is pure genius, I think! This book is definitely one of those books I recommend :)


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