It seems I am a bit of a mean person recently, this will be yet another review of a book that seems to be loved by many people and I was not completely satisfied about it. I had Could Atlas on my shelf for probably around 2-3 years and I was always a bit intimidated by its size, or maybe not by the size itself (at 530 pages it is not even close to the longest books I’ve read), but by my edition, which had a really small print. I recently noticed my eyes get tired easier and I subconsciously start avoiding books with small print (one of the advantages of Kindle), I also cannot get used to the fact that in UK by default the print is a size smaller than in Polish editions, I’m not sure why that is, but I checked and it’s a fact. Finally however my curiosity and the need to complete at least some of my 2017 TBR won and got reading.
Here’s the Goodreads blurb to give you an introduction, I don’t think I’d be able to describe the plot more succinctly:
Cloud Atlas begins in 1850 with Adam Ewing, an American notary voyaging from the Chatham Isles to his home in California. Along the way, Ewing is befriended by a physician, Dr. Goose, who begins to treat him for a rare species of brain parasite. . . . Abruptly, the action jumps to Belgium in 1931, where Robert Frobisher, a disinherited bisexual composer, contrives his way into the household of an infirm maestro who has a beguiling wife and a nubile daughter. . . . From there we jump to the West Coast in the 1970s and a troubled reporter named Luisa Rey, who stumbles upon a web of corporate greed and murder that threatens to claim her life. . . . And onward, with dazzling virtuosity, to an inglorious present-day England; to a Korean superstate of the near future where neocapitalism has run amok; and, finally, to a postapocalyptic Iron Age Hawaii in the last days of history.
Once we reach the postapocalyptic Hawaii we make a return trip through all the worlds we visited, all the way back to Adam Ewing. I must admit I was completely unable to read the Hawaii part, it is written in a slang that I could not get into, so it is possible that I missed the most crucial part and that’s why I didn’t really like this book, please let me know in comments you read it and that’s the case. When considered as separate stories all of the parts are fine, the story of Timothy Cavendish made me laugh at the end and I found the story of Sonmi most fascinating. I actually wished they were developed into full blown novels. What didn’t work for me was the whole metaphysical aspect, I was in a very skeptical mood when I read this book and the whole idea of souls travelling through time just felt cheap and completely didn’t resonate with me. So as much as I admire Mitchell’s ability to change writing styles and create interesting plots, the main idea of the book felt like a total cliché, because of that in the end I focused on ignoring it, just to enjoy the stories.
Have you read it? What did you think? Have you seen the movie?