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Cloud Atlas


Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell
509 pages

First sentence:  Thursday, 7th November - Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forelorn strand, I happened on a trail of recent footprints.

Reflections: I absolutely loved this book.  I couldn't put it down, and finished it in just a few days over the long holiday weekend.  David Mitchell weaves together the stories of six people, living at varying points in history (and in the future).  Beginning in the 1850s, each story reaches its halfway point and then abruptly moves to the next, several years later.  The sixth tale takes place in a kind of post-apocalyptic Hawaii and once it is fully told, we travel back in time again, completing each story and learning how they all interrelate.  The book's title refers to a sextet composed by one of the characters.  The Cloud Atlas Sextet was a "sextet for overlapping soloists," with "each solo interrupted by its successor."  Just like the book.  Clever.

In addition to creative genius, Cloud Atlas contains powerful messages about society.   The stories set in history provide a backdrop that shows how our current 21st-century society came to be what it is.  This brings an air of credibility to the futuristic stories that I don't normally find.  A story set in a future Korea shows the potential consequences of the 21st century's consumerism and excesses.  This society began to manufacture slave labor, and over time the humans lacked the core skills required for a society to function.  In the final story, the post-apocalyptic world then reflected on the 21st century society's perpetual hunger for "more .... more gear, more food, faster speeds, longer lifes, easier lifes, more power...".  

Well, it just makes you think about what might happen if we continue our current trends of consumption, discrimination, terrorism, and so on ... this is an important book and highly recommended.
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17 / 50
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6,576 / 15,000
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Comments

raidergirl3
Apr. 10th, 2007 10:19 pm (UTC)
Could this count as a dystopian book? I'm thinking of reading a few for that challenge. You wrote a great review, and I want to read but - the time, alas, where will I find the time?
laura0218
Apr. 10th, 2007 11:45 pm (UTC)
raidergirl3, while I think 2 of the 6 stories could be considered something like sci-fi, I'm not sure the whole book counts as "dystopian" (although I admit to not fully understanding the genre). So it may not help you in the dystopian challenge, but put this one on your TBR pile anyway!
raidergirl3
Apr. 11th, 2007 12:06 am (UTC)
I looked up dystopian books on wikipedia and Cloud Atlas was there. So it counts, and I've added it to my TBR list. There were a few books I've heard of there, more than I expected.