Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell.

A story about stories! It’s so meta. I enjoyed this book very much; I took notes and drew a diagram. I won’t say anything detailed about it because half the fun of reading the book is seeing all the different kinds of stories and how they fit together. The change in narrative voice when the author switches genres is very nicely done.

I thought that the second half of the book didn’t quite fulfill the promise of the first half. I was expecting a vast sweeping something tying everything together in a single beautiful theme, but instead there was some stuff about souls being comets that come back around every few hundred years. Perhaps that’s a little unfair; there are themes of subjugation and freedom that are subtly expressed, but I wanted something explicit and all I got were souls = comets and also souls = clouds. Still, the trite mysticism was overshadowed by the fun of reading all the different genres and seeing how each story wrapped up.

Halfway through the second story I had what I thought was a brilliant insight about how the title is a play on words. It turned out to never be mentioned in the book, which isn’t about nuclear war at all, but I still think it’s a cool idea: Cloud Atlas – A nuclear mushroom cloud as a giant, made of clouds, holding up the roof of the world.

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