Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell


“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”

With this one, for me the film came before the book, which I’m glad of, because I think if I’d started with the book, I wouldn’t love it so much. The book is pretty complicated, and being the flaky reader that I am, if I can’t get a good grasp of a plot quickly, I find it difficult to love, so already having the movie as an anchoring point really helped.

Cloud Atlas spans centuries and continents, telling the stories of six different characters. All of their lives and experiences couldn’t be more different, but this story unites them across time and space, as each chapter contains something (a film, journal, etc) from the previous chapter that influences the main character in some way and alters the path that they may otherwise have followed.

Even with only having a vague understanding of the film version (I don’t know if it’s possibly as complicated as I think it is, or if I’m just slow) I found the book a bit painstaking, because there were just so many different stories and characters with such completely different voices and it was hard to keep track of who was who and where and when we were, because there was no way I could have read this in one sitting without my brain melting out of my ears. Having said that though, the themes, and storytelling are wonderful, if you can resist skimming past the less interesting character’s chapters to get to the more exciting ones. Not that I would do such a thing, of course. I also feel I may have found it easier if I’d read this in an actual, physical format rather than as an ebook. I would have benefited from being able to flick back and forth just to reacquaint myself with previous chapters when they popped up in later ones.

Over all, I loved this book and it’s idea that all of f life is a product of all other lives. That even the most insignificant thing can change everything if it falls into the right hands at the right time and so we should be mindful of the marks we make while were here, because you never know what their consequences could be when you’re not around anymore.

But if you’re like me, and struggle to take in vast amounts of information while also grasping a plot line, then watch the film first. It helps.



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