An Exquisite Take on Connectivity | Cyn’s Book Review ‘Cloud Atlas’

By: Cynthia Ayala

A collection of intricately woven stories, David Mitchell brings to life the lives of 6 characters, separated by time, yet influenced by one another through their souls.  Cloud Atlas is a beautiful piece of art.


Author: David Mitchell

Published: August 17, 2004

Publisher: Random House

Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama, Fantasy

A collection of six stories, that move through time from a remote South Pacific in the nineteenth century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future. This novel joins six timelines, showing the connectivity between stories, the novel highlights that the past and future converge in one beautiful message of hope, love and freedom.

Cloud Atlas is a stand-alone novel written by David Mitchell. Published on August 17th in 2004 by Random House, the novel shifts between timelines to bring together three genres: Science Fiction, Drama and Fantasy as it goes from the past to the future back down toward the past.

This not an easy novel to read. Each section does not conclude a story as it wraps itself like an onion, ending where it began, in the past. Keeping that in mind, as the reader makes their progress through the novel, they will find themselves captivated by each section in the novel. This both brings attention to the past and highlights elements in the previous section that, otherwise, may have gone unnoticed. This will take readers back and forth between sections, but rather than it being tedious, it’s jaw dropping. Once again, the readers will find themselves seeing something new, like a missed detail here, that makes the foundation of that story more sound.

Of course, it helps that Mitchell is a master at the visionary details of his novel. Bring to life the settings, each one vastly more different from the previous. Shifting from time to time, the format also changes, ranging from a novel, to letters, interviews and narrative. Readers will literally be seeing through the eyes of the characters simultaneously getting to know them. These characters do not repeat and are each unique in their own right. The narratives and the way in which they are written are so unique towards one another. However, some of that makes this novel difficult to read at times.

The linguistics within the novel change per period and highlights David Mitcell’s ingenuity and intellect as he studies the natural progression of syntax, dialect and structural order of words. The linguistics differ and evolve through time, remaining complex and easy to understand at the same time as the reader slowly adapts to Mitchell’s way of evolving the English language. That requires the reader to pay special attention to context and the detail in the novel.

Despite all that, it’s still a very resound novel as it focuses on the connectivity between the timelines. Each section is beautiful and the way Mitchell shows how each character is going to be viewing the differences within the novel.

Cloud Atlas is a masterpiece as it trails the foundations of connectivity, to show just how deeply the past effects the present from emotions to actions. Weaving together six beautiful stories with intricate detail, this is the perfect novel to dwell on over a summer vacation as it deals with deep philosophical nature on the human condition and the beauty of our souls evaluation just how they work and how each one touches another. ★★★★★ (A+)

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