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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas is an incredible journey through the lives of multiple characters over several lifetimes, in which David Mitchell expertly weaves the past to the future.

I was immediately engaged as I started the first section, where the narration begins with the journal of a man named Adam Ewing, who is currently traveling by ship. When his ship has to stop for repairs, he is horrified upon witnessing the punishment of a slave, who gives him the oddest feeling of recognition. After setting back out to sea, the crew finds a stowaway, whom Ewing feels the inexplicable desire to save. This decision will prove to haunt him at the end, when he nears death.

I'm soon thrown into a completely different narrative, where I meet a man named Zedelghem through a series of letters to his friend Sixsmith. Zedelghem manages to gain the trust of a famous composer enough that he manages to obtain a live-in position, where he enjoys some uncommon benefits.

The story of Luisa Ray is told as if it is a fictional story of a news reporter, who is on a mission to discover the truth about a scientific experiment. After having a long discussion with Sixsmith, he invites her to speak candidly with her about the subject later. Unfortunately, he does not show up for their appointment, which leads her on a arduous adventure through a chain of corruption.

Timothy Cavendish writes in first person directly to his reader. Through a series of mishaps and misunderstandings, he explains, he has come under fire from his lenders. His brother offers him a way out, which he hastily accepts in order to get out of his contract with the mob. Unfortunately, the place he checked into isn't what he thought it was.

The Orison of Sonmi is my favorite plot line in the story. Through interviews of an investigation, the tale of an artificially intelligent turning lucid is revealed. I had to return the copy I had borrowed from the library in the middle of this, and even though I read books in between, I could hardly wait to finish this one.

The following story is told by an old man, Zachry, who tells the wild story of his youth. While the narrator of the audiobook did a fantastic job, the dialect itself grated on my nerves. However, the strange tale of his travels with the Prescient kept me engaged. Little bits throughout the stories link them together, but this is the story where it all begins to come together.

After this, the author returns to the previous stories: Sonmi, Cavendish, Rey, Zedelghem, and finally Ewing. All of the plot lines come together revealing how one small act can effect the course of history. The individual stories were all exciting, as was the overarching plot. I also enjoyed the variety of characters, points of view, and writing styles throughout this novel.

Recommended Reads:
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation

Recommended Viewing:
The Fountain

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