Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had been meaning to read this book since about 2005 when I saw it on the shelf at my local public library. I looked it over at that time and decided against it, but with thoughts of reading at some future time. A few years later, the movie with Tom Hanks came out and I again thought about reading this book, but didn’t. I’ve learned over the years that sometimes you just have to wait till you’re “ready” for a book. I was ready for it this time.

All books are unique in their own ways, of course, but some are just exceptionally unique. This book is one of those. I’ve been a life-long reader and have read thousands of books; some memorable, some not-so-much. Cloud Atlas will stay with me for many years to come. I’ll not summarize the plot for you in this review. It’s actually not possible to do so, as far as I’m concerned.

This book has layer upon layer of meaning. It’s a history book, a suspense novel, a tragi-comic yarn, etc. What it really is, though, is a philosophical thesis disguised as a fiction novel. Mitchell has something to say here. He employees an interesting means of saying it. There’s a moral to the story, folks. I should hope you would see that by the time you’ve reached that last page.

I experienced many emotions while reading Cloud Atlas; ultimately, though, realities of life reminded me of many things in this world that could stand some improvement. Don’t let this scare you away. Read this book! It’s not going to be for everyone, though. Mitchell intertwines much actual history and philosophy mixed with some laugh-out-loud moments and sadness. Some readers may miss much of this as they’re reading the book, though.

I initially rated this book with 4-stars leaning toward 4.5; however, upon writing this review, I decided that 5-stars is just necessary. The only drawback I can truly claim as bothersome to me is also one of the unique aspects of the book itself. The first person accounts written using the actual idiom of the storytellers was difficult to read at times; particularly the dialect of the character Zachry, a Hawaiian islander.

Try this book, folks. You may be pleasantly surprised. As with all good books, it should make you think. It should wrangle some emotions for you. It should cause regret when you’ve turned over that last page in the back of the book. It could possibly entice you to read it again one day.

View all my reviews


About V. T. Eric Layton

vtel57, Nocturnal Slacker

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