Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cloud Atlas

Someone asked me recently about the last book I read and my response was, "Cloud Atlas, which was one of the most innovative, creative and fun books I've picked up in a long time."  David Mitchell has crafted six stories that seamlessly weave between each other, each more intriguing than the last.
The book begins with a journal from a South Pacific traveler, which is found decades later by an English musician, whose letters are read by a journalist in 1970s California.  Her story is submitted as a transcript to a vanity publisher, and his story is watched by a clone in a futuristic corporcratic society.  The last story in the book takes place in a post-apocalyptic Hawaii.  Each story is nested inside another: the South Pacific story starts and finishes the novel, with the others also being interrupted halfway through to begin the next.
With each new storyline, I would say, "Oh, this is my favorite yet."  They're each populated with sympathetic and well-drawn characters, and incredibly different from each other.  I will admit that the story I read quickest was about Somni-45, a clone who develops the ability to think freely in a totalitarian future; her worldview (corporations have taken over the government, and ads are flashed on the moon at night) seems like an ominous cautionary tale.  However, I also love the caddish English musician who carries on a love affair with his mentor's wife while lusting after her daughter, and was drawn to the journalist who is in investigating a nuclear reactor's false report on its environmental effects.
This is a great novel to beat the summer doldrums.  It came out a few years ago, so there shouldn't be a hold list for it at your library!

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