Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas

By David Mitchell

  • Release Date: 2004-08-17
  • Genre: Literary
Score: 4.5
From 1,102 Ratings


By the New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks • Now a major motion picture • 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


  • Wonderful but...

    By leavin
    This book is a work of art in terms of character development and interlocking stories. HOWEVER if you have not experienced the writing style of David Mitchell or seen Cloud Atlas as the movie first, this book may be a bit challenging and quite extraneous to read. It's a whole collection of stories that effortlessly fit together if you can open your mind to the differences and similarities of each character and their time period. It is an amazing book and I have never read anything like it before. It's weirdly strange, yet so utterly captivating!
  • Wonderful

    By LC in PHX
    This novel was amazing from start to finish. The first jump between characters was a little disconcerting but I found myself quickly immersed in each new narrative. The quality of the writing is so vivid that it's more like watching a movie in your head than reading a book. I will definitely be reading the author's other works, and can't wait to see the movie based on this one.
  • A masterpiece!

    By Jon Les
    Sometimes I sit on my balcony, watch the traffic and just think about life. What is it all about; what’s the point? What does my life amount to? I don’t mean this in the whiny or sad way, more in the pensive/intellectual way. I had always kind of come up with a blank at the end of my thoughts, that is, until I read Cloud Atlas. I know that the book, and subsequent movie, are quite divisive, so I’m not going to tell you that this book is going to change your life or that it’s going to be some majorily profound expereince for you. However, in some small way, the book did change mine. David Mitchell’s masterpiece somehow managed to teach me about what it’s all about. There’s one other interesting thing I learned reading this book. The simplest of all messages can take in excess of 500 pages to really convey. It’s the beauty of the written word, and something that Mitchell thoroughly taps into. To be honest, the central message of this book has been done before. It has just never been done quite like this—or anything like this for that matter. This is one of those books i’ll be coming back to for a very long time.
  • Excellent

    By Sailing Sue
    The characters Mr. Mitchell creates are so imaginative and strong. I will be thinking about this book for a long time to come.
  • Excellent book.

    By Crazy MikeF
    Reading this book helped to understand some of the elements of the movie. I have a bad habit of starting to watch a movie hafway in, then getting around to watching the beginning of the flick. You can't do that with this film adaptation. So i read the book. Very well written. Is this a new genre? Multiple story lines, seemingly different but tied together by trascendental threads woven throughout? I found this book very mentally challenging - but there is a reward for the reader that sees it thru.
  • Crud Atlas

    By Chandler Court
    This book came highly recommended and I was highly disappointed. I found the Luisa Rey and Sonmi characters too bland and virtuous and the Timothy Cavendish and Robert Frobisher characters too whiny and craven. The chapter in future Hawaiian pidgin was just annoying. It's okay not to like business or capitalism, but the future as imagined here seems to consist entirely of recycled clichés from bad science fiction movies made in the last 40 years from Soylent Green to Running Man to Rollerball. I was told this book was groundbreaking but I found it boring, heavy-handed and derivative.
  • Lucciano

    By JCLucci
    Very difficult to follow theme in this book, not sure what author was trying to convey. Maybe when I see the movie the answers will reveal themselves.
  • Cloud Atlas

    By Really258
    Ugh. Scattered and confusing. Not what I thought it was going to be. Very loosely associated in "lives". I struggled through this book to my disappointment.
  • Disappointing End

    By Bluesqx4
    Totally into this book. Wrapped up in trying to figure out where this story is taking me and the deeper level of the multiple intertwined story lines. Really got into the independent story lines and the adventure aspect of them. Then the end comes. One last burp of pseudo insightful philosophy. So disappointing. Made me feel like the entire story could have been skipped and this could have been published as an affirmation placard sold in an organic coffee shop/dog treat bakery. I won't see the movie but for those who do, I hope Hollywood came up with a more meaningful and profound ending.
  • Cloud Atlas

    By Salvador Quinones
    Greatest Book in the history of mankind!