I adore David Mitchell, but….

cloud atlasI did not adore this book. The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that Mitchell bit off a little more than he could chew with this one…

I should preface this by saying I LOVE David Mitchell. I thought The Bone Clocks was awesome and I adored The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. I read both in the space of a week. It took a bit longer with Cloud Atlas.

Mitchell’s writing is great as usual. I love how he constructs his sentences and he has these quiet moments of beautiful epiphany. On a sentence by sentence basis, it’s awesome. I also have enormous respect for the sheer number and range of styles he used here. It is remarkable.


I really don’t think the boomerang structure of the narratives worked. I see what he was trying to do and I see how it parallels the sextet that Frobisher composes, but I think, on the whole, the structure doesn’t work to hold the reader’s attention. I lost interest about halfway through Zach’s narrative and it was only my curiosity as a writer that kept me reading. I wanted to see how Mitchell would wrap it up.

Speaking of Zach’s narrative, I feel it just went on way too long. I understand the purpose of it going that long, but given the strange language used, it was just very tiring on the mental eye.

I also think there was too much of a time lapse between Cavendish and Sonmi. We didn’t really see how society ended up to Sonmi’s reality, although I’m sure we can all imagine it. I would’ve liked a narrative that did more to connect them.

Also, even though I think I enjoyed Frobisher’s section the most, I didn’t see how it connected with the novel’s overall theme of humanity versus barbarism and how humans interact with the nature around them. That section seemed to stand out and maybe it was intended to be that way.

Overall it was an interesting read, but I think his vision could’ve been better realized by a three narrative structure…

Then again, the guy’s been long-listed for the Booker twice, so what do I know?

Have you read Cloud Atlas? What did you think?