Book Review: David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas

Cloud AtlasCloud Atlas by David Mitchell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’d heard buzz about Cloud Atlas, both the book and the movie, and I can see that some of my (goodreads) friends loved it, but I found it a real slog. I admired the intellectual and literary wizardry of creating six stories, and most with their own dialects and unique speech patterns, but I found the connection between them tenuous, as much a gimmick as anything else. While I enjoyed some of the stories more than others, the first story was a challenge, the recreated language from the mid-19th century. Have I lost my will to be intellectually challenged by too much Instagram, Facebook and Netflix? Perhaps. I really got stuck with the longest story, the centrepiece, post-apocalyptic Hawaii. One problem is that with my family from Hawaii, I’m familiar with the pidgin English that is commonly spoken there. While the language Mitchell created for Hawaii has no relation, I think, it just didn’t feel to me the way that language evolves. It was too clever and I found it hard to follow, and how did Australian dingoes get to Hawaii anyways? By the time I’d gotten through that section to return to the other stories, I’d forgotten their key plot elements. While I could joke and take the blame myself, other reviewers, both professional and community, did seem to have the same problems. Cloud Atlas really did receive mixed reviews.

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