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Cloud Atlas: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

David Mitchell
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,706 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $8.79
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

By the New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks | Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize | Includes a new Afterword by David Mitchell

A postmodern visionary and one of the leading voices in twenty-first-century fiction, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian love of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending, philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco, Haruki Murakami, and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction as profound as it is playful. In this groundbreaking novel, an influential favorite among a new generation of writers, Mitchell explores with daring artistry fundamental questions of reality and identity.

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.

But the story doesn’t end even there. The narrative then boomerangs back through centuries and space, returning by the same route, in reverse, to its starting point. Along the way, Mitchell reveals how his disparate characters connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.

As wild as a videogame, as mysterious as a Zen koan, Cloud Atlas is an unforgettable tour de force that, like its incomparable author, has transcended its cult classic status to become a worldwide phenomenon.

Praise for Cloud Atlas
 
“[David] Mitchell is, clearly, a genius. He writes as though at the helm of some perpetual dream machine, can evidently do anything, and his ambition is written in magma across this novel’s every page.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“One of those how-the-holy-hell-did-he-do-it? modern classics that no doubt is—and should be—read by any student of contemporary literature.”—Dave Eggers
 
“Wildly entertaining . . . a head rush, both action-packed and chillingly ruminative.”People
 
“The novel as series of nested dolls or Chinese boxes, a puzzle-book, and yet—not just dazzling, amusing, or clever but heartbreaking and passionate, too. I’ve never read anything quite like it, and I’m grateful to have lived, for a while, in all its many worlds.”—Michael Chabon
 
Cloud Atlas ought to make [Mitchell] famous on both sides of the Atlantic as a writer whose fearlessness is matched by his talent.”The Washington Post Book World
 
“Thrilling . . . One of the biggest joys in Cloud Atlas is watching Mitchell sashay from genre to genre without a hitch in his dance step.”Boston Sunday Globe
 
“Grand and elaborate . . . [Mitchell] creates a world and language at once foreign and strange, yet strikingly familiar and intimate.”Los Angeles Times


From the Trade Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At once audacious, dazzling, pretentious and infuriating, Mitchell's third novel weaves history, science, suspense, humor and pathos through six separate but loosely related narratives. Like Mitchell's previous works, Ghostwritten and number9dream (which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize), this latest foray relies on a kaleidoscopic plot structure that showcases the author's stylistic virtuosity. Each of the narratives is set in a different time and place, each is written in a different prose style, each is broken off mid-action and brought to conclusion in the second half of the book. Among the volume's most engaging story lines is a witty 1930s-era chronicle, via letters, of a young musician's effort to become an amanuensis for a renowned, blind composer and a hilarious account of a modern-day vanity publisher who is institutionalized by a stroke and plans a madcap escape in order to return to his literary empire (such as it is). Mitchell's ability to throw his voice may remind some readers of David Foster Wallace, though the intermittent hollowness of his ventriloquism frustrates. Still, readers who enjoy the "novel as puzzle" will find much to savor in this original and occasionally very entertaining work.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Mitchell's virtuosic novel presents six narratives that evoke an array of genres, from Melvillean high-seas drama to California noir and dystopian fantasy. There is a naïve clerk on a nineteenth-century Polynesian voyage; an aspiring composer who insinuates himself into the home of a syphilitic genius; a journalist investigating a nuclear plant; a publisher with a dangerous best-seller on his hands; and a cloned human being created for slave labor. These five stories are bisected and arranged around a sixth, the oral history of a post-apocalyptic island, which forms the heart of the novel. Only after this do the second halves of the stories fall into place, pulling the novel's themes into focus: the ease with which one group enslaves another, and the constant rewriting of the past by those who control the present. Against such forces, Mitchell's characters reveal a quiet tenacity. When the clerk is told that his life amounts to "no more than one drop in a limitless ocean," he asks, "Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1,843 of 1,884 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book but not for everyone December 18, 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This goes down as one of my favorite books of the year.

Story in a nutshell (without spoilers):

Cloud Atlas consists of 6 [slightly] interlinking stories, told from the viewpoint of 6 different individuals at different points in time. The first story consists of the letters of Adam Ewing, and his fateful trip on a ship in the Pacific in the mid 1850's.

From there we go to the second story, which takes place in the 1930's and is told from the viewpoint of Robert Frobisher, a talented disinherited muscial composer who visits an infirm maestro and his family in an attempt to get work and advantage. His story is told through his letters to a scientist friend/lover named Rufus Sixsmith.

The next story takes place in the 1970's, and has to do with reporter Luisa Rey, and her exposure of corporate malfeasance that could result in disaster. Sixsmith is a scientist there, and plays an important part of the story.

Next, (and my personal favorite), is the story of Timothy Cavendish, in present day England, and the tale of his (mis) adventures as a book publisher. Utterly hilarious and poignant.

The second to last story becomes a sci/fi read of future corporate controlled Korea, complete with cloned humans. And the final story is one that takes place in post apocalyptic Hawaii.

And then we go back to each story, in opposite order, and put the pieces together and complete the cliffhanger endings from the first half.

I think this book is brilliant. I often found myself rereading various sections because I found them so ingenius and profound. I think David Mitchell is one of the most talented new writers around.

My only complaint?
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482 of 509 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A profound page-turner September 25, 2004
By S. Bush
Format:Paperback
Cloud Atlas is a series of six interlocked tales - encompassing a wide array of eras, locales, and genres -in which the protagonist in each story is impacted in some significant manner by the tale told in the preceding section (or the following section, as the book's tales wind out in reverse order in the second half).

So...the stories we tell, and the sense we make of things, have meaning. I'm not sure if Mitchell intended this a straightforward(ish) reincarnation tale, or if the larger theme has something to do with the idea that the stories we tell survive us, perhaps at least partially define what it means to be human, or enable us to retain some vestige of humanity in the face of forces (imperialism, slavery, corportization, or just our own worst impulses) designed to strip that away. The centerpiece of the book does take place in a future world in which civilization has been literally reduced to the ability to remember, and relay that rememberance forward in a sort of verbal folklore.

This is a good, moving, well-written, and entertaining book. One's patience for it is probably dependent on one's degree of exposure to genre fiction - I think someone approaching this from the perspective of classic "literary fiction" might find it off-putting - part of the fun here is the manner in which Mitchell plays with the tropes and cliche of various genres (sci-fi, hardboiled crime fiction, belles lettres, etc) across the six tales. That said, there's lots of "high literary" enjoyment to be had here - the writing is stellar, and there's lots of good thematic linkage (boats, bridges, musical themes, etc.) that add quite a bit of depth.

I would also like to dispel the notion that this is a "difficult" book in the style of David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, etc.
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384 of 419 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary work September 14, 2006
Format:Paperback
I've just finished this phenomenal book by David Mitchell, a present from a friend who recommended I read it immediately.

So glad I did. It has aspects of the dystopian future scenarios that I so loved in The Handmaid's Tale, Dune, and The Sparrow coupled with recent past and long-past stories. It addresses basic questions of where we are going as a species, following one soul reincarnated through six lives. That soul is on a trajectory that traces the basic human desire for domination, the often-myopic thinking of the powerful, and the fate of the powerless. It is on a grand scale, beautifully told, and quite enthralling.

The structure is what had me hooked to start--it is a mirror of itself. Rough breakdown: The first and twelfth chapters are "The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing," a story of subterfuge, gullibility, and poison on a ship bound from the South Seas to London.

Second and tenth chapters are epistolary, taking place in 1939 through the correspondence of Frobisher--a bit of a cad and scammer--to his friend Sixsmith. Frobisher is a brilliant musician but the family shame, in the process of writing his great masterpiece while apprenticing under a syphilitic genius composer.

Third and ninth chapters follow the efforts of investigative journalist Luisa Rey to uncover serious evil at a soon-to-be opened nuclear facility in the mid-70s. One of her primary sources in the mystery Sixsmith, Frobisher's correspondent from the last chapter, but now 35 years older.

Fourth and eighth chapters are the disturbing and frequently funny tales of Timothy Cavendish, a bumbling, arrogant, failure of a publisher in London during roughly our current times, maybe a little later.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Intriguing
Published 8 hours ago by Tonya Ainardi
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating novel. Force yourself to read the first chapter ...
Fascinating novel. Force yourself to read the first chapter, while it is needed it is quite different than the balance of the novel.
Published 11 hours ago by virginia
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time
I found this novel to be a rambling mess. The stilted dialogue in some chapters was dreadful and hard to follow. Read more
Published 1 day ago by paul ledford
4.0 out of 5 stars Not really a novel, but a fascinating collection of short stories
It's really more like a collection of short stories than a novel. That said, I enjoyed the stories and the elements that reappeared across the various tales. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Daniel S Heinz
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing book
Incredible journey. Saw the movie first could not wait to read the book. Both are completely brilliant. Read the book see the movie. Extraordinary
Published 3 days ago by maryfrances
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Boring.
Published 3 days ago by Paul A. Renard
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A fascinating book!
Published 4 days ago by MarjA williams
1.0 out of 5 stars I bought this book because I hated the movie so much
So...I bought this book because I hated the movie so much. But they made a movie out of it, after all, so I figured there must be something to it that just didn't translate well... Read more
Published 5 days ago by one dog
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
disjointed stories with difficulty combining the common thread.
Published 5 days ago by Cynthia Souza
4.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious and Mostly Successful
"Cloud Atlas" is most easily described as a series of six short stories that are all connected in some form or fashion, but that doesn't really do it justice. Read more
Published 6 days ago by allong1118
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More About the Author

David Mitchell is the award-winning and bestselling author of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Black Swan Green, Cloud Atlas, Number9Dream, and Ghostwritten. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, his newest novel The Bone Clocks has been selected for the 2014 longlist. Mitchell was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time in 2007. With KA Yoshida, Mitchell translated from the Japanese the internationally bestselling memoir The Reason I Jump. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.

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Perfect example of ridiculous e-book pricing by publishers
I totally agree. The fact that the kindle version is $11.99 and I can have them SHIP (free) a PHYSICAL book ($9) is stupid. I understand the reason WHY these prices are like that (can't completely price-out brick & mortars, abandon distributors/physical publishers). Once e-readers begin to... Read More
Sep 5, 2012 by Justin P. Woo |  See all 19 posts
What was corrected in Cloud Atlas correction?
Hmm. I just encountered a logical inconsistency that is troubling me no end... and I'm wondering if in fact this might be something that's been corrected in a new version! Here's my observation:


In the chapter 'Sloosha's Crossin', the opening section describes Zachry's first encounter with... Read More
Nov 8, 2012 by T. Gluck |  See all 3 posts
Kindle version missing part of first story
Just keep reading!

About 1/2 way [maybe 3/4] through chapter 2 it should make sense. Consider it a test. I think many people will find/have found it an unfair artifice. But it's what this book is. Personally, I loved it soooooo much.

Good luck, Alex!
Jan 24, 2012 by mlm |  See all 11 posts
Dissapointing that the publisher is charging 33% MORE for the kindle...
Pure greed at work There is absolutely NO reason for the paperback to be less expensive than the e-book! I will not pay any more than $9.99 for ANY e-book, no matter how badly I want to read it. There's still libraries.
Sep 18, 2012 by B. Bentham |  See all 6 posts
Any stories similar to Cloud Atlas?
Also, Italo Calvino "if on a winter's night a traveler"
Sep 15, 2011 by Helen Selonick |  See all 8 posts
'Godonism' or 'Cloud Atlas?' Be the first to reply
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