Cloud Atlas read-along, part one

We are now at approximately the half-way point for our read-along of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, hosted by Melissa and Care. This has been one of the most fun and different reading experiences I’ve had in years – and this book is unlike anything I’ve read before. The book is a series of interconnected stories – each one moving ahead in time. It’s set up like a staircase: you get part of story 1, part of story 2, part of story 3, part of story 4, part of story 5, all of story 6, conclusion of story 5, conclusion of story 4, conclusion of story 3, conclusion of story 2, conclusion of story 1. As you read, you proceed further in time, and then back to where (when) you started. In each story, a character is reading or experiencing part of the previous section’s story. I have no idea if I’m explaining this well at all, but I’m loving it!

Not only is each section a different story, but it’s told in a completely different style. The first section is a journal, the second letters, the third a novel manuscript, the next a first-person account, the next an interview, and so on. The style of writing, the voice, is so different in each section, that I found it amazing that they were all written by the same author.

My favorite section by far has been “An Orison of Sonmi-451″ – probably because I’m a dystopia-junkie. I love the way he uses an interview to do the world-building – and the language is astounding. In this future, brand names have become nouns. So instead of getting a cup of coffee at Starbucks, the character gets a starbuck. They watch disneys, wear nikes, etc.

I could rhapsodize on and on about how much I’m enjoying this book, but I have things to do today, and so am going to answer some of Care’s questions to close out this post.

Are you enjoying it so far?
Yes, yes, yes! (see above) :)

Can’t wait to begin the second ‘half’?
I can’t! I’m trying to fight the urge to just skim through the middle section, “Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After,” so that I can get to the second half of “An Orison of Sonmi~451.”

Fearful of reading more Adam Ewing?!
I have a very strong feeling that his story doesn’t end well. And that is where the book will end…..

Picked up on any other themes or symbols?
The main one is the comet-shaped birthmark, which I noticed in three of the sections, but might have missed in the others.

The Sonmi section has some amazing wordplay, would you agree?
That was one of the reasons the section was my favorite!

Are we having fun yet?
Most definitely!

One last thing – there is a film adaptation of Cloud Atlas in the works, with a cast full of huge names: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess…. I’m very curious to see how this book could possibly work as a film.

On to part two!

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11 Responses to Cloud Atlas read-along, part one

  1. Care
    Twitter: bkclubcare
    says:

    You must NOT skim Sloosho – even if it is long, because Somni is central, sort of. Well, you can guess, right? It’s very adventuresome, this section. I’m glad you are enjoying it. I am, too. (I’m trying to clean house for a St.Pat’s party tonight and I’m rewarding myself with ‘just 10 pages’ each time I get a room or big chore done.) AND, the I am again amazed at Mitchell’s skill at word play but play here is different than in Somni section, I think. Fascinating.

    I am fearful with so little info out about the movie if that means it will be 2013 before we can actually see it. And I have to resist looking at the character list again – knowing the actors who play the characters makes me see that person when I’m reading!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Care – glad to hear I’m not the only person who rewards herself with reading for doing housework! LOL I promise, I won’t skim Sloosha – even though I’m anxious to get back to Somni’s story. :)

  2. Kristi
    Twitter: kristiluvsbooks
    says:

    I’m so glad that everyone seems to be enjoying it. I too was impressed by the way Mitchell was able to write in so many different styles without any section feeling subpar. They were all amazing in their own way (even though Adam Ewing was a bit difficult to get through).

    I can’t figure out how they can make a movie of this either, but they have some big names so maybe they’ll pull it off!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kristi – It makes me excited to read everything he’s ever written! The only book of his I’ve read before is Black Swan Green, which is a coming-of-age story – and it is excellent.

  3. Trish
    Twitter: TriniCapini
    says:

    Will WP let me comment??

    I love how everyone is picking different sections to grasp onto. The Somni section was the most difficult for me because my brain has a tough time grasping onto Science Fiction type writing–too heavy for me these days. ;)

    I’m also baffled about the movie. Just can’t see how it would translate well into film with all of the different layers. Seems it would be very disjointed! But Tom Hanks…love.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Trish – I just had to approve it – your comment came through! I read a lot of science fiction, so that section read pretty easy for me. I still haven’t had time to start the Sloosha section, and I’m a little nervous about the dialect…

  4. Melissa
    Twitter: avidreader12
    says:

    I love how you described it as a staircase, going up, then back down. That’s a great way to look at it. I also feel like this has been a completely unique reading experience. I’ve never read anything quite like it. There are so many different styles and characters. It’s like reading 6 different books that are all somehow connected, but so much more intense.

    p.s. I can’t imagine making this book work in a 2 hour movie. How could you cover even half of the plots?

    p.p.s. If I rewarded myself with reading like you and Care, I’d probably clean my house a bit more! Maybe I should try that.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Melissa – I really am wondering how they will do this book justice in a film. And I can tell you honestly that, with the busy weekend we’ve had, I haven’t gotten any housework – or reading – done!

      • Melissa
        Twitter: avidreader12
        says:

        I’m with you. I just can’t imagine this book as a movie! I’m worried they’ll do it badly and it will deter people from reading the book.

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