Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
“Cloud Atlas” tells the story of the human condition. Sometimes the human condition is to be weak, vulnerable, and preyed upon. Sometimes the human condition finds strength despite being preyed upon, propelling ideas to the public to be adopted for future generations. Sometimes the human condition is to be blindly, hopelessly in love. Whatever the specific circumstance, there is some universal element that finds a way to connect us all to each other. Honestly, though, I can’t give you a brief synopsis of “Cloud Atlas” because that takes all the fun out of it. You’ll just have to read it for yourself.
Written as a series of stories, “Cloud Atlas” takes a kind of postmodern, abstract perspective on the human condition that tends to hide just as much as it reveals. Whether you have to patiently wait for the answers, answer the questions for yourself, or even formulate the questions yourself, “Cloud Atlas” will make you stop and think a second or third time about what you just read and how it relates to everything else. Mitchell beautifully creates multiple worlds within one novel, giving distinct voice and character to each section. This is alternately exciting and annoying because it forces you into new settings with no certain terms or rules about grammar, spelling, and how life works, which reinforces the theme of the novel. You may never know the full story of what is happening, but the most important part is to try to understand what is happening at this particular moment. Mitchell writes with wit and satire that seems more and more brilliant as the novel goes on, because the more you read, the more you understand. It is unbelievable how such a complex work can resolve to such a united storyline.
I was completely blown away by “Cloud Atlas.” It doesn’t make any sense, yet it makes absolutely perfect sense. I frequently found myself frustrated at the lack of information, but once I started to find answers to my questions, it was so beautifully simple and obvious. I want to read it again to see if I can find even more allusions between the stories. A little bit of word play, a little bit of criticism, and a lot of fantastic worlds and stories – everything that I enjoy reading. It was thrilling (exhilarating) to read because of the fun, imagination, and creative care that obviously went into crafting every part of the story. I highly recommend reading this one.