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megustaleer

Cloud Atlas - I've Finished!

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Thank Goodness!

I will admit to approaching this book with minimal enthusiasm, but I was prepared to put aside my predjudice against hyper-hyped books and enthuse if I thought the writing warranted it.

Possibly, if you read it in really big chunks (maybe chapters 1-5, in one sitting, then chapter6, and finish with chapters 7-11 in one final sitting it might all hang together, but I found it very disjointed, and the difference in style/genre of the 6 stories was, to my mind rather gimmicky. The language used in the middle story was almost incomprehensible at the start, and then just became an irritating obstacle.

The connections between each section were either too slight or too obvious, so there was no pleasure to be gained from playing 'spot the join', although I did enjoy the 'Sixsmith' connection. I was really disappointed that the interruption to the 'Timothy Cavendish' story wasn't caused by the film being stopped in the Somni 451 chapter.

I have posted about the birthmark in the appropriate chapter.

I hope I haven't inadvertantly posted a 'spoiler' anywhere for any of you. The end of the Adam Ewing story was spoiled for me by a review I read somewhere (not on BGO, I think it was an Amazon review).

Although I have read and enjoyed other books with unusual constructions, or with the use of difficult language/dialect, and books in all the genres used for the different chapters, I didn't really get much satifaction from reading this book. If it doesn't have a plot, a novel should be really well written, and I didn't think this came into that category.

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Although I have read and enjoyed other books with unusual constructions, or with the use of difficult language/dialect, and books in all the genres used for the different chapters, I didn't really get much satifaction from reading this book. If it doesn't have a plot, a novel should be really well written, and I didn't think this came into that category.

 

I would agree with you on that. I found this book a bit of a slog I'm afraid. I felt the connections between the characters were weak and at times it did seem like 6 short stories thrown together and called a novel.

 

If I had to pick a section that I felt worked best it would probably be the Sonmi section and - as someone else has already said - I'll be looking out for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

 

In the end I felt the author was exploring his ability to write in different genre or exploring ideas for more developed pieces rather than writing a novel.

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I have gotten confused with all the different threads on Cloud Atlas! I ended up posting my conclusions about it on the Bestsellers Top 20 Paperbacks (I think) section where it was listed because there was such a problem with maybe spoiling it for someone who hadn't finished it yet on the threads here.

 

I did find it to have a very firm 'message' illustrated by the various stories and tying them all together. Whether anyone else saw the same message in there I don't know. :o

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I hadn't thought to look at the Top 20 forum for Cloud Atlas posts, so thanks for pointing me in that direction.

 

I think that I saw the theme, if any, as the individual pitting him/herself against authority, but I have managed to forget already how each individual story finished.

 

I can't return to the book to remind myself, as I left it 'in the wild' today!

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Well, I loved it. Best book I've read in ages. Despite some reservations in parts (Luisa Rey stories were the weakest I thought and don't get me started on the "Scottish" elements of Aurora House) I really enjoyed it. My favourite story by far was Zachry's, which surprised me because when I first saw the style of writing my heart sank. I checked how many pages of it there were and thought jeez louise, can I bear to read all that? But it was brilliant. For me, that story is the heart of the book and summed up most clearly the theme or message: not a case of individual against authority, but the more basic theme of the dual power of humanity to both heal and destroy itself and that never ending struggle.

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Magwitch....... I concur

Eexxccelent (Montgomery Burns voice)

 

(sorry, it was the first thing that popped into my head :D )

 

I just found that this book engaged me, and the fact that it maintained an authority throughout all the different stories was, I thought, quite a feat. Compared to the Time Traveller's Wife, where I found myself constantly asking 'yes very nice, but what is this actually all about?".

 

I like books with big strong messages, I think. Even if the presentation is a little off/shaky personally I will always go with a book with passion in the content over one that focuses more on style.

Does that make sense??

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Finished a couple of days ago. I enjoyed this book although I was a bit disappointed by the ending. I think I could see that it was trying to say what the theme of all the stories was, but I just felt it was a bit of an anti-climax.

 

It would be interesting to see the Somni 451 story developed further. The only thing I found puzzling in that story was why Somni said the happiest time of her life was when she watching the ordeal of Timothy Cavendish. Was it just a way of linking the two stories together?

 

The story I liked least was the Letters from Zedelhegm(?). Found that a bit pointless.

 

Although Sloosher's Crossing was hard going in terms of the language, the story was pretty good. Reminded me a bit of Lord of the Flies.

 

Overall, I would give this book a thumbs up, and I think I will be reading his other books.

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I have just finished Cloud Atlas and I can't say I'm sorry! I found it a real slog, and the only reason I could keep myself reading it was just in case something wonderful happened at the end to tie everything up - sadly, for me anyway, this wasn't the case.

 

I agree that the birthmark was too obvious, and it annoyed me that all the characters had it except Adam...what was the point of leaving him out?

 

I think Mitchell made a good enough stab at recreating different types of language, but I wouldn't say it was marvellous or anything - someone said somewhere that the Ewing chapters were somewhat contrived, and I wholeheartedly agree. THe phrase 'jack of all trades, master of none' sprung to mind on more than one occasion.

 

I couldn't really enjoy the Somni chapter as I felt it took too much from Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. It seemed as if it was trying to be original but really nicking the idea off Huxley.

 

I felt the Luisa Rey chapter was quite badly written, I don't read a lot of mystery/crime/thriller novels, but the few I have read have gripped me a lot more than it did. I didn't really have a sense of Luisa as a person, more a plot device. It reminded me of a Nancy Drew novel. I always hated the way it was always Nancy who did everything, never Beth or GEorge, and how she always escaped so so conveniently in the nick of time....just like Luisa! Actually, it's just struck me that Luisa Rey is very similar to Helen Fielding's Olivia Joules....except not as interesting.

 

I quite liked Frobisher's letters....probably because I can empathise totally with the tendency to ramble....! Although I felt he was showing off a bit in his letters, it made me wonder how much of it was true and how much was just bravado for his friend. I kind of felt he would admit vulnerability for a little while and then try to cover it up by going yeah but I didn't really CARE though, did you really think I cared?! Do I look bothered....?!

 

On that same note, I enjoyed the Cavendish chapter for the same reason...I thought there was a little bit of ambiguity as to whether Timothy was or was not senile, and enjoyed looking for clues in the text. Don't know if Mitchell meant it this way or not, but that's what I picked up on at any rate. Timothy's version of events weren't necessarily what was actually happening...perhaps he was just senile and confused!

 

Sloosha's crossin was interesting....although I wished there'd been more details of The Fall. I found it quite unsatisfactory. LIke Donnae it also reminded me a bit of Lord of the Flies, with maybe a hint of Lord of the Rings added in for good measure!

 

THe connections between the stories were very weak...just too obvious. It sometimes felt like Mitchell had 6 unrelated stories, and one day thought how cool it would be to make them all into one book...the critics would love it! So he went about revising them, sticking in a birthmark here, a paragraph about reading someone elses diary there and bingo! Cloud Atlas!

 

All in all I found it unsatisfactory...I felt it wasn't well enough written to justify the hype and that the gimmicky structure was it's main selling point. I also felt it drew too much on other well known stories, practically every main event reminded me of another novel I'd read. I know literature draws on other literature, it's inevitable, but I never normally have this sense when reading a novel.

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Finished it last night. I'm afraid I feel somewhat ambivalent about it - I quite enjoyed it, but can't really see the point of it all. Several of you have mentioned the birth mark connection - so can anyone tell me what that was supposed to tell us? Were all the characters descended from Adam?

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Just finished it. I was bewitched. I approached it aith the attitude that nothing could come close to Time Traveller's Wife for me this year. Found the first episode of CA hard going, but persevered. Became utterly absorbed by DM's dexterity with language. I don't think for one minute that these were all embryonic books he had in a drawer somewhere, far too skillful for that. I didn't know that there were 2 halves to each story when I started so wasn't tempted to read ahead. But I did have to read back! I don't have a problem with that. I like a book that challenges me :)

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Just finished it. I was bewitched. I approached it aith the attitude that nothing could come close to Time Traveller's Wife for me this year. Found the first episode of CA hard going, but persevered. Became utterly absorbed by DM's dexterity with language. I don't think for one minute that these were all embryonic books he had in a drawer somewhere, far too skillful for that. I didn't know that there were 2 halves to each story when I started so wasn't tempted to read ahead. But I did have to read back! I don't have a problem with that. I like a book that challenges me :)

 

Glad to hear your opinion. This has been on my "to read" pile for a few weeks and I've been putting it off 'cause of the mixed reviews. Finished"The Minotaur" by B. Vine yesterday(V. dissapointing) and was going to start it then but read the previous post to yours. Have started "My Sisters Keeper" instead, which seems good so far. "Cloud Atlas" is definitely next up.

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Finished it last night. I'm afraid I feel somewhat ambivalent about it - I quite enjoyed it, but can't really see the point of it all. Several of you have mentioned the birth mark connection - so can anyone tell me what that was supposed to tell us? Were all the characters descended from Adam?

I think the birthmarks were just another way of linking the stories together. The way I interpreted it was that they showed a simple genetic link between the characters (nothing to do with Adam!). This, in itself, was not particularly relevant other than serving as a metaphor for the strength that is always present in humanity to defy odds, swim against the tide, stand up for what's right etc etc. That's my take on it, anyway.

 

gerbrooks, I hope you enjoy it and look forward to seeing which way your opinion will go.....!

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Well here we are at the start of September and I have finally, finally gotten round to starting "Cloud Atlas"! It has been on my "to read" pile sice June but I was very ambivelant about it due to the mixed reviews here, so kept putting it on the long finger. Anyway - I am about a third of the way in and really enjoying it. Just discovered that there are two parts to each story and my mind is working overtime trying to imagine what the connections will be. If this standard holds up I will be well pleased.

 

Magwitch, apologies for not replying sooner and I will let you know my final opinion when I get to the end.

 

Have to go now, a good book awaits!

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It's probably not a good idea to read the reviews first!

 

I belong to two postal book groups, and each month the two books for that month arrive with notebooks containin the comments from the previous readers. The temptation to read the comments first is enormous, but it can colour the way I approach the book, so I do try to resist...at least until I'm starting to form an opinion of my own.

At that point I might check to see if a concensus is developing :P

 

Not that it matters if we don't all agree ;)

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Well, it's finally finished and unfortunately I have to say I'm not really sorry.

This is the first time in a long while that it took me more than a week to read a book and although I enjoyed it to point, it didn't live up to expectations and frankly ended up being a bit of a slog.

 

I liked each seperate section for themselves as I got "into" them but then they finished abruptly just as I had done so and I had to start all over again. Which would be ok if there had been a good reason for it but it didn't seem to me that there was, apart from seperating full stories in two for the sake of artifice. Sometimes it felt as if the author was showing off - saying "look what I can do" and that bugged me a bit, even 'tho, I will admit he is right to consider himself talented.

 

Overall a good book and I would read another by him (but not this week) but not as brilliant as it likes to think. As for the "message", talk about hitting you over the head with it! Also the birthmark link was weak and did'nt have a real point.

 

Reading all the above it seems a bit of a contradiction to say I liked it but it's true. Anyway I'm just about to start "House of Sleep" by Jonathan Coe that I've picked up secondhand. Any opinions? It looks pretty interesting - but then again so did"Cloud Atlas"!

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I just saw the following 'trailer' for a forthcoming edition of Radio 4's Bookclub:

David Mitchell - Cloud Atlas

Six seemingly unconnected stories essentially considering slavery in all its different forms.

Saturday 26 May 2.30pm

HAY FESTIVAL

My underlining.

I didn't pick up that theme, and don't remember it from the discussions. It wasn't mentioned in the Amazon Synopsis of that time, either.

Did anyone else notice that as a theme?

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