‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell

★★★★

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(Sonmi~451 and pals from the movie: Cloud Atlas)

Just this past week I finished Cloud Atlas (Now a major motion picture).  Someone prescribed it to me upon hearing I liked to read and pegged it as the greatest piece of literature on twelve legs. The author, David Mitchell, is clearly an unsung genius.  Many successful authors find their voice and their niche and work on becoming the master of that domain. I have never read anything else by David Mitchel, but I can comfortably say he has mastered many.

Cloud Atlas follows six different lives, each character affecting the next, though they are decades, or maybe even centuries apart. The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing, from what I can gather, is a terrible adventurer and should probably have more trust issues than he does. No spoilers of course. Though I didn’t much care for his story, Mitchel certainly does put previous exploration novels, yes you ‘Gulliver’s Travels of Boredom’, to shame. Though it does give one the same feeling of wanting to take the protagonist by the shoulders and give him a good brain-rattling shake.

Anyway, this Pacific Journal is read by a young music prodigy Zedelgm. He writes to his lover/friend, Sixsmith about his rock and roll lifestyle. Minus the drugs. Also Minus the rock and roll – he is a classical pianist. I do feel all musicians lead similar lives, governed by their art and emotion. This story was probably my favourite, Zedelgm has such a dark witty sense of humour that I want to keep him around. As a pet or something. When his chapter came around again, in silent exaltation, I would devour it in minutes.

As did a certain, seventies journalist: Luisa Rey, the third protagonist. I honestly pictured her in corduroy flair jeans, and I don’t even know if that was a thing. She got a hold of these letters to Sixsmith, a man whose death she was investigating. This was your average 70’s cover-up with dramatic car chase; feisty and fearless, female lead; and emotionally deprived assassins (I think all assassins are, now that I say that. I think it was in the job description the last time I checked SEEK).

Timothy Cavendish, a publisher, read about ‘The Luisa Rey Mystery’ in a novel: Half Lives. Cavendish’s ordeal was a confusing read, mostly because I wasn’t sure if old mate was crazy or there was some evil conspirer against him. At the end of his segments, I mostly felt repulsed at the fact that I was going to age as well, and that this ordeal would become my future. Cue moment of truth and pause reading for a life reflection. Quick google search on how to become a robot who stays young and hot forever. Good distraction, can now get back to reading with lighter soul.

The movie of his ghastly ordeal was watched by clone: Sonmi~451. The greatest couple of chapter’s I could ever possibly read. Sonmi~451 is a clone working at a restaurant franchise, with other clones, bread for the sole purpose of waitressing. Been there Sonmi. The cloning theme is exceptional, and introduces a whole new layer of sub-human ethics. Lately I have been a tad obsessed about DNA manhandling, probably due to my anti-aging research thanks to Cavendish and watching Orphan Black at two AM. So this may be the whole reason I became so fascinated. Also I think I learnt, like five new words every time Sonmi opened her mouth. She was clever without being tacky, in your face obvious clever. If Zedelgm is going to be my pet, Sonmi is totally going to be in my book club. Or maybe a neighbour whom I have tea with every Tuesday.

Sonmi then becomes a god to the post-apocalyptic cave men. Zachry is the protagonist of: Sloosh’s crossin’ an’ ev’rythin’ after. Otherwise known as: the boy who never pro’lly never finished a word. Nothing is more irritating to read than an accent who insists on representing itself on paper. Fair enough if it is Hagrid or something – he’s not in every scene. But this son-of-a-bitch was the narrator for the longest segment in the world and that’s all I have to say about that. I give you, Cloud Atlas, four stars. Taking one away for having to read Zachry’s nonsense. Definitely worth a read though.

★★★★

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8 thoughts on “‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell

  1. Bec Graham

    I HAVE BEEN WAITING TO SEE A REVIEW OF CLOUD ATLAS FOR AGES!!!
    I LOVED this novel. It was brilliant with nine capital letters! I totally agree with you about the first story. But how it got cut off mid sentence? Like we were actually part of Zedelgm’s reading experience? Genius. I tried to recommend this book to my ex, and warned him about the first chapter, but he just couldn’t get past the voice. Which I totally get. But, man, I was so annoyed.
    But that’s just another testament to Mitchell’s genius: he can pull off the awful voice of an Austen-esque narrator, the succinct voice of someone from around the twenties and invent his own voice. This book…
    And the Somni story. How brands became common nouns? Like nike was the word for ALL shoes and whatever? She was my favourite story too! And how she became Zachry’s goddess? But OMG that accent was terrible. I totally agree about the phonetically represented accents: it’s why I never made it past the first page of “Trainspotting”.

    OK, my rant is over now. 🙂

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    1. Amy Wallin Post author

      The brands as nouns totally struck a chord with me too. This will be our future, when businesses become monopolies. So fabulous. I read somewhere that the author is a bit of a twat. Which frustrates me so much. I hate learning that amazing writers are human too.
      I appreciate the rant=)

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      1. Bec Graham

        My thoughts exactly! We already do it, to a certain extent. And the whole misspelling of “night” as “nite”. Totally going to happen. People already don’t need proper grammar to get their points across because people who understand grammar (AND SPELLING) have accepted horrible misuses of English as just a way of life.

        I try not to think of authors as people with personalities, but more like ambivalent creators. Kind of like God, you know? He’s all-powerful, creator of all things, (you know, if you believe in that), but no one actually knows what his personality is like. Man, if Cassie Clare turned out to be a bitch my world would implode.

        Have you read “The Fault In Our Stars”? Or seen it? What happens when Hazel meets her favourite author is quite literally one of my nightmares.

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        1. Amy Wallin Post author

          Yes, I saw it coming the entire book. I was all, Hazel don’t do it. People are awful. Stay inside and never leave the comfort zone!
          I completely understand about not wanting to know the author. I always rather disliked the university conversations on the author, authors meaning etc. Leave them out of my precious reading! Haha.

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          1. Bec Graham

            I was holding out just a little bit of hope for her, considering the whole “terminal cancer” thing. Though, I think Neil Gaiman is an upstanding fellow. Do you follow him on Twitter? He’s always talking about charities and stuff. He’s a genius. A philanthropic genius.
            I completely subscribe to the whole “The Author Is Dead” argument. Once the book, TV show, movie is out there, the meaning is up to the fans. What the author “intended” is interesting, but we, the readers, get out of it is the main thing. 🙂

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            1. Amy Wallin Post author

              I shall follow him immediately. I’m still new to twitter so I’m still finding all the people I should be following. I think I’ll go through my bookshelf and follow all the authors who are still alive. Im open to suggestions! I hope they don’t get all Peter Van Houten (Hazels Author) and ruin my books for me. If I follow Philip Pullman and he turns out to be a tosser, I don’t think I’ll be able to get out of bed for a week. 🙂

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              1. Bec Graham

                I’ve been lucky, author wise. They usually just talk about their books. John Green is pretty fun to follow, but he’s got social media down pat.
                Philip Pullman has Twitter? Ummm, I need to find his account immediately.

                Twitter takes a whole to get the hang of. I’m still learning! Usually I just check my feed to see if any competitions or publishing opportunities spring up. 🙂

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