Posted by: Ele Quigan | October 1, 2010

‘Cloud Atlas’ David Mitchell

I don’t really enjoy short stories. They’re short, and about 80% of the time fairly depressing. I guess they have to be – such a short space to make an impact. I read one at high school – ‘The Bath’ by Janet Frame, quite possibly one of the most depressing things I’ve ever read – which brings me to Cloud Atlas.

It’s like a book of short stories. Yes they are connected, but it’s a lightish thread. From tales of New Zealand with what became of the Moriori through to a dystopian future of hunan drones who are slaves, genetically bred to service ‘normal’ humans, supposedly without sentience…

It’s an interesting read, and I guess everyone would have their own opinion of which stories they liked held within. It was exciting as you read through to find out what the thread between the stories was, and it felt like you were reading a matryoshka doll – pulling apart each of the layers, and putting it back together again with the knowledge that once you’d finished it, that you knew all of the secrets held within.

Some of the stories annoyed me a little, almost like they weren’t fast moving enough, or that they came to an unusual dénouement that didn’t sit as it should (though in saying that I was rather glad the pompous pianist didn’t get the girl, please excuse the plot spoil). It did however truck along at quite a pace, and didn’t feel like I was reading a weighty tome (that I think after putting it down I realised it’s something like 500 pages or so)

I probably wont read it again, books like at spoilt after reading once, what’s unhidden is stark from the start, and I’d want to skip the entire boring bits that I didn’t quite enjoy as much. Probably quite deserving of it’s booker shortlist status, while I haven’t read the winner for that year (2004) it was still an interesting read.

I guess what is further interesting to note, is the sections that I did enjoy were the two dystopian future stories (elements of Atwood, Orwell, and Huxley of course) and the thriller that didn’t feel too dissimilar from Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander trilogy… I’m a sucker for a good thriller and something set in a negative sounding future I guess!

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