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Cloud Atlas Paperback – August 17, 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 3,178 ratings

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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

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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5
3,178 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on July 20, 2018
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Top international reviews

Partick Potter
1.0 out of 5 stars Too clever by half
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 24, 2018
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Jcloth
4.0 out of 5 stars it is a beautifully and sensitively written book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 12, 2017
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Tim
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing, wonderful read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 31, 2014
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Rose
5.0 out of 5 stars "a half read book is a half finished love affair"
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 12, 2014
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Miss K. Southern
4.0 out of 5 stars The six stories are linked tenuously but they could easily stand alone and Mitchell is impressive in his ability ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 26, 2018
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Daniel Morgan
5.0 out of 5 stars A finely woven tale and an under-appreciated dystopian text
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 6, 2019
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Peter Hall
4.0 out of 5 stars Very different from the film
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 24, 2014
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11 people found this helpful
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Vik
3.0 out of 5 stars ... are 6 nested stories within the book) that I liked & enjoyed
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 30, 2016
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Huckle
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 2, 2020
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Emma
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint hearted
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 14, 2016
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Georgiana89
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect blend of clever structure and compelling stories. Not always an easy read but a truly brilliant one
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 18, 2014
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Nigel Jennings
3.0 out of 5 stars A challenging anthology of six short stories
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 26, 2015
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Rob Maller
4.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable and very different novel
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 19, 2019
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Cleversaz
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this before watching the film!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 12, 2014
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markv
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Intriguing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 1, 2018
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